Sous Vide Alaska Pollock Cooked to Perfection

Originally kept to the domain of professional chefs, sous vide is becoming an increasingly popular cooking method in the average American home. The sous vide cooking method typically consists of vacuum-sealing your choice of food in a bag, cooking it in a bath of water in a glass container, and potentially broiling or searing the food further for a crispier flavor.

For the second season of Smart Kitchen & Bar, Foodable has partnered with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to spotlight chefs who actively practice sustainable seafood sourcing. These chefs share why they love seafood, explain how they select responsible seafood vendors, and showcase cutting-edge, fish-focused recipes.

This season is also available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and Foodable On Demand.

Wild Alaska pollock makes for a versatile, flaky, and delicious dish. Alaska pollock is the largest sustainable fishery in the world and is caught in its natural habitat and processed at-sea or on shore. It has a mild cod-like taste and delicate texture prized by chefs from around the world.

In the clip above, Chef Jennifer Booker shares her sous vide Alaska pollock recipe with host Paul Barron. The delicious recipe features a variety of flavorful ingredients including saffron rice, sautéed spinach, garlic, and tomato.

Booker is a personal chef, cookbook author, culinary educator, and business owner based in Atlanta. She also currently serves as an Executive Chef for the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Her culinary company, Your Resident Gourmet, provides in-house cooking, catering, party planning, menu development, and cooking classes. Booker loves seafood, and encourages her clients to rethink the unhealthy stereotypes of southern cuisine.

Check out the full episode on Amazon Prime Video or Foodable On Demand to learn more about southern agriculture and finding fresh, healthy, sustainable seafood.

Underutilized Fish Species: Collaboration and Education Create Balance

Today, consumers across the globe are relying on seafood as a primary source of protein. This has sparked an educational movement to limit overfishing in an effort to promote seafood sustainability. The idea is to use less of an overused species like Salmon, and substitute it with a less familiar and potentially more abundant species, like Pollock.

On this talk, brought to you by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, our Host Daniela Klimsova, and panelists Warner Lew, Taho Kakutani, Taichi Kitamura - explore how we define an underutilized species. They also discuss the need to not only market to chefs and restaurants but to the consumer, who has a significant role to play in a more sustainable future.

Taho Kakutani, a fishmonger at Pike Place Fish Market, leads by saying discussions about sustainability started to stand out about five years ago, which lead the fish market to prioritize seafood sustainability and advocation of the practice.

“There is a need for story...the seafood industry is particularly compelling,” said Kakutani. “From the sea to the table is this amazing journey that’s happening. So when we have these touch points like sustainability...there’s this opportunity to create this really interesting story that I think consumers are really looking for.”

Taichi Kitamura, executive chef and co-owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura, agrees that as chefs, they are responsible for educating consumers on underutilized species being included on their menus.

“I have to be very careful about what I say to my customers, and actually what I practice in terms of what to put on the menus,” said Kitamura. “You really have to be on top of this wasn’t the news then, but now it’s the news.”

Bristol Bay’s Fleet Manager, Warner Lew, got his start in the 1970s as a deckhand for local fisheries. He now is known as a crusader for getting Americans to eat canned, smoked Alaskan herring. With a nod to chef Taichi Kitamura’s herring sushi dish from a chef’s seminar, he speaks about how a species could become underutilized.

“The herring, it’s...underutilized in this country because few people know how to handle it… [or] how to enjoy it. That’s the trick [when] utilizing the fish, is how do you make it enjoyable and easy,” said Lew.

Mainstream seafood is often overfished and over marketed. Experts all agree that to create a significant change in reducing overfishing of certain species, industry leaders such as fishermen and chefs need to collaborate, educate and expose the underutilized species market to the masses.

Seafood is the Most Improved Protein Option by Millennials for 2018

Seafood is the Most Improved Protein Option by Millennials for 2018
  • Mentions of Seafood on social has spiked by 24.7% in the last month.

  • Chef Sylva Senat demonstrates how to get creative with Pollock and Rockfish, both sustainable fish options. 

Sourcing protein has become a complex challenge. As an operator, finding the right product for your menu takes time and energy. But you also have to consider what proteins consumers are looking for on menus.

Since there are so many protein and alternative proteins available today, which ones do you make the center of your dishes?

We pulled Foodable Labs data on 11.8 million food influencers to see which proteins they are gravitating to.

Seafood is up 81.3% in consumer mentions year over year, specifically the consumer request for fresh seafood is up 49.5% in the past year. In the last month, mentions of Seafood has spiked by  24.7%, making it the Most Improved protein.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that there continues to be a high demand for quality, fresh seafood.

The seafood industry relies heavily on Alaska’s abundant fisheries.

“The industry catches and processes enough seafood each year to feed everybody in the world at least one serving of Alaska seafood, or one serving for every American for more than a month,” according to Alaska Seafoods’ latest Economic Value Report from September.

Although the seafood market is plentiful, there are still certain fish breeds that remain more popular than others. This can often lead to overfishing, so that’s why Alaska Seafood encourages operators and chefs to consider using fish breeds that may be less known, but that the sea has plenty of.

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Join Chef Sylva Senat at C-CAP's Swap Meat


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“I actually came to America when I was about 8 years old and one of the reasons was my mom passed away, but when I was really young, you know, I used to go to the market with my mom. So... I think I was always gravitated to ending up in the kitchen,” said Haitian-born Sylva Senat, chef and partner of Philadelphia restaurant Maison 208.

Chef Sylva Senat

“At this point in my life, as a chef, I want to start giving back.”

It has been a long journey for Chef Senat. With over 18 years of experience, he has made a name for himself by working at high-profile restaurants like The Sign of the Dove, Aquavit, Jean-Georges and Buddakan, while learning from culinary masters like Chef Andrew D’Amico and Chef Vongerichten. Later, he went on to participate in Bravo’s hit show Top Chef, where he became the last rookie standing, making it into the top five spot before getting eliminated in Episode 10 of Season 14.

In Senat’s exit interview for the show, the Top Chef contestant said “I have been chasing this dream since I was 18 and I am not going to stop...”

Well, “stop” he has not.

Today, not only does he spearhead a Philadelphia-based restaurant group, but he runs a full restaurant operation as Maison 208’s head chef while mentoring the next generation of culinary professionals via Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP.)

Chef Senat’s journey can be traced all the way back to his time as a student at C-CAP, an organization that gives underprivileged kids the opportunity to follow their culinary dreams. Now, he serves as a proud alumni board member and a mentor to recent graduates.

This is how Chef Senat met his C-CAP mentee— Dominique Akers.

Chef Sylva Senat and Dominique Akers

“In 11th grade, I was introduced to C-CAP and my eyes were just blown straight open. They have job opportunities and scholarship opportunities, everything I dreamed of was there,” said Akers, a Swenson High School graduate. “I’ll be starting my first semester at the Culinary Institute of America in January. I got my scholarship… my parents almost cried. It was probably one of the highlights of my life.”

In this episode of Food As A Lifestyle, Foodable got a glimpse into the lives of this culinary duo as they prepared to conduct a “Swap Meat” demo at the Community College of Philadelphia for a C-CAP Chef Conference.

Chef Senat believes that when you take a fish and you treat it like a meat there’s really unlimited possibilities to what someone can actually create. This is the whole premise to the “Swap Meat” demo where the chefs participating in the conference got a chance to see how to prepare and taste two delicious and sustainably sourced fishes from Alaska: the Pollock and Rockfish.

Chef Senat and Akers personally went to pick up the fish from their local fishery, Samuels and Sons Seafood, because Senat thought it would be a good experience for his mentee to learn from the guys who butcher the fish by hand.

Alaska Pollock

While at Samuels and Sons, they meet the Vice President of New Product Development, Joe Lasprogata, who teaches them a little more about the types of fish they will be featuring in the demo.

For example, the Alaska Rockfish is low in saturated fat and very high in selenium, phosphorous, and vitamin B12, and it is known for its delicate, mild flavor, pearly-white color, and tender yet meaty texture. On the other hand, the Alaska Pollock is low in fat, calories and an excellent source of protein. It offers wide appeal with its snow-white, tender fillet with a mild flavor and beautiful flake. Additionally, the Pollock is the largest sustainable fishery in the world and accounts for 30 percent of all U.S. seafood landings by weight.

“Sustainability has always been important for the Alaskan people. The concept of sustainability is built into their constitution to make sure they take care of these natural resources, so they’ll be around for years to come,” said Lasprogata.

To get an idea of the yields from the Alaska Rockfish, a fish Samuels and Sons is experimenting with, Chef Senat is advised to get 60 pounds of the whole fish for a yield of 20 pounds of fish meat.

C-CAP “Swap Meat” Chef Demo

To get ready for the following day’s demo, Chef Senat and Akers have to prepare about 90 portions of each fish.

For the first dish, Chef Senat decided to swap the meat of a Dewey burger he has in his Maison 208 menu with the Alaska Pollock by shrinking it with baby buns to make sliders.

Chef Davis Denick, Samuels and Sons’ seafood executive chef was a big help when portioning the fish filets.

They cooked the fish with a little cayenne and salt and used fresh brioche buns with butter lettuce and a tomato slice in each slider.

For the second dish, Chef Senat decided to serve seared Alaska Rockfish plated over a corn mash alongside cherry tomatoes with a shallot dressing finished off with fresh basil.

The demo end up being a huge success, where all the chefs participating in the conference alongside the C-CAP student volunteers were introduced to two sustainable fish products that could be easily swapped for dishes that typically use meat like chicken, pork or beef.

Chef Senat not only was able to give back to the organization that propelled him to success but was also able to educate his peers about creative ways to incorporate sustainable fish in their menus.

“I want to show them that it’s not just a piece of fish anymore, the creativity and the limitless of what you can do with it can truly be inspiring," said Chef Senat.  

Watch the episode above for more tips for swapping sustainable seafood for meat!