By Liesel Schmidt
There’s an old proverb that there are plenty of fish in the sea…And while it might be true, it also adds to the confusion about where those fish might be coming from and how exactly they came to land on your plate.
It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it, to contemplate whether that lovely salmon steak you’ve just ordered was raised on a farm somewhere, or if it might have been happily swimming along in ignorant bliss upstream in Alaska before it became the featured attraction on the daily menu? It’s not something that we always give much consideration to, being right on the Gulf Coast where fish is plentiful and even one of our main attractions, and we often assume our fancified fillets were caught fresh and brought in by the local boys. But the exact source of your gloriously gilled piece of pescetary perfection may be much more important than you realized, as their life’s journey can affect everything—right down to the way they taste.
But it’s not simply a matter of flavor for some—it’s also a desire to be conscious of the environment and how the sourcing may have impacted nature. What are the costs involved in actually getting your high-dollar fish dinner delivered to your table—not in dollars and cents, but in environmental footprints? Has it been caught locally, or has it been frozen and shipped over thousands of miles? Was it swimming freely and contributing to the natural cycles of the ecological system?
With all these goals in mind, many restaurants all over the world have begun closely monitoring every single step of the process involved in getting fish from the water to the plate, going so far as to implement programs that tell the story of their fish down to the last detail—right on down to the name of the boat it was brought in on. Not to be left behind in this technological trend, a great number of restaurants across the Emerald Coast are now actively participating in the FishTrax program, offering diners the ability to enjoy some educational reading when they order their entrée. It’s as simple as picking up your smart phone to scan a QR code, and you’ll discover the profile of your pick, including the name of the fisherman who caught your fish, where it was caught, and even what time it was caught.
“The FishTrax Marketplace is a great way to ensure that the fish you’re being served is fresh, safe and, local,” explains Ariel Seafoods founder Davis Krebs, who joined with fishing and environmental experts to start FishTrax in a concerted effort to increase the sustainability and accountability of the fishing industry. “Some people call it traceability. We just call it telling the story.”
And it’s certainly a story worth telling.
Wondering which of our many local fish to get hooked on?
Amberjack is a light and flaky fish with a flavor similar to salmon, but a little more on the delicate side.
The firm meat of black drum has a mild and sweet flavor, making it perfect for many preparations.
Cobia greatly resembles steak in the firmness of its flesh, and this white fish has a sweet, richness in flavor that lends itself well to raw preparations.
More delicate in texture, flounder is a lean, flaky fish with a mild and sweet flavor.
White and lean with very mild yet unique flavor; some say grouper tastes like a cross between bass and halibut.
The meat of the pompano is pearly-white and firm, yet finely flaked, with a flavor that is sweet and mild.
Red snapper is a lean, firmly textured fish with a distinctively sweet, nutty flavor.
Scamp is a member of the grouper family, though it is sweeter and produces white, flaky fillets with a light to medium flavor.
A slightly sweet white-fleshed fish.
Steaky in texture, tuna is robustly flavored with firm, lean meat.