From Salmon Hotdogs to Pristine Mussels

Salmon hotdogs? Salmon bacon?  Sure, I’ll try ’em.

While I had neither the time nor the space in my belly to sample products from all of the 1,000+ exhibitors at the International Boston Seafood Show 2012, I had a wonderful time wandering through the aisles, tasting, asking questions, and taking photos. I was encouraged to see how many exhibitors are committed to providing sustainable seafood products. Nosh with me, as we check out some of my finds.

The Aquaculture Seafood Booth

Chef Paul gets wild with the salmon.

Coming from the hotdog-loving city of Chicago, I got a big kick out of the naturally smoked Salmon Franks from Aquacuisine Seafood. I’ve been a pescovegetarian for decades, so frankly, I don’t even remember what a beef hotdog tastes like, but as far as I could tell, these salmon hotdogs have the same mouth feel as regular hotdogs. I’m always looking for meat substitutes for a barbecue, and these smoky stogies are much tastier than the vegetarian hot dogs I usually put on the grill.  I did find the salmon franks a bit dry, but who eats plain hotdogs, anyway? They’re healthy, too: each link has 80 calories, 11 grams of protein, and 500g of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and is gluten- and nitrate-free. Even better, they’re made from wild, natural and sustainable Alaska Salmon. I’m looking forward to putting these on the Barbie soon.

Salmon Bacon

Fred West created this bacon for his grandaughter, Kylee.

Bacon’s another item that’s been missing from my diet for many years, so I was excited to taste Kylee’s Alaskan Salmon Bacon, which is also made from wild Alaska salmon.  Owner Fred West created this all natural, maple-cured salmon bacon for his granddaughter Kylee, who’s allergic to the growth hormones and steroids in pork and beef products.  I’ve tried all the vegetarian “bacon” products, and none of them are as tasty or satisfying as these rich, hearty strips. Sadly, this treat is only available outside of Alaska by UPS, and, at $13.95 for a 12 ounce package of 16 slices, probably only an occasional delicacy, but it would be a great gift for your favorite pescovegetarian (hint, hint).

On a more serious note, I was delighted to discover Verlasso, a new company that’s producing what they call “harmoniously raised fish” in Patagonia. Verlasso is using innovative strategies to make salmon farming more sustainable. For example, they feed their salmon with an Omega-3 rich yeast, which enables them to use 75 percent less feeder fish than most other salmon farms.

Salmon

Verlasso smoked salmon with creme fraiche.

According to Allyson Fish, a Verasso Director, “Our pen density is half of the international standard, which keeps the fish healthier and protects the local eco-system.”  In addition, Verlasso lets the pens rest for three months between production cycles. The World Wildlife Fund is in dialogue to develop sustainability goals for salmon, so in the interim, Verlasso is using these conversations as their guidepost and has hired DNV, an independent certifier, to verify if they are really following their stated practices.

Both the smoked and cooked Verlasso salmon are light and flavorful, a nice contrast to the wild Alaskan salmon I’ve been eating.  I would feel good about buying this salmon, but, alas, it’s only available in Berkeley, California; Portland, Oregon; and mid-Atlantic states, at least for now.

Finally, as I noted in Seven Things to Know About Farmed Fish, shellfish aquaculture production actually helps the environment by filtering out pollutants, and tend to use less intensive production systems, so they are a good choice for sustainable seafood. I was impressed by Prince Edward Aqua Farms, a shellfish producer on PEI that extends its environmental practices from the ocean to the land. They recycle all their effluents, and they filter their “mussel dirt” through a waste recovery system that collects the nutritious residue and distributes it to organic farmers for fertilizer. Their “Island Gold”™ mussels taste meaty and juicy, clean as the water they come from. Their products are available across North America.

As the show wraps up, I’m already looking forward to finding more sustainable seafood products at next year’s show!

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