Fish aren't just fillets that swim—and for seafood to be truly sustainable, consumers will need to learn to eat every part
To some, the very idea of a meal using the discarded bits and unwanted ends of a major food industry evokes repulsion. In Alaska, I gorged on a banquet of bits and ends and it was nothing short of unforgettably delicious.
It's hard to imagine that many processors don't use the meat still on the bone of a sockeye salmon after sides have been cut off, or those bright-red sockeye bellies with their enticing lines of fat. When butchering my own fish—not a common occurrence, I'll admit, since fillets are easier to find and to use—what's left makes for great stock. But I was recently introduced to lots of other possibilities for the fishy "odd bits," and it was an eye-opener.
Before I tell you about my fantastic meal, I have to share where it came from. I was asked to keynote Global Food Alaska's biennial summit, and I used the opportunity to explore the nuances of the Alaskan seafood supply. Although I personally consume about a ton of seafood every year, and part of my job is to ensure our chefs have access to sustainable seafood, I went to Alaska unschooled. Two weeks ago, I got a brief look into a fascinating food trail.
In Cordova, in south-central Alaska, I met Scott Blake, CEO of Copper River Seafoods. A former commercial fisherman and the son of fishers, Blake cofounded the company in 1993 with three other fishermen.