Want your fish without an aftertaste of guilt? Sustainable seafood is the way to go.
I stopped in at the Good Catch dinner hosted by High Cotton this week, where Chef Shawn Kelly had prepared several courses of seafood paired with good wine and earnest education.
Good Catch is the South Carolina Aquarium’s initiative to advocate for seafood that is raised and captured sustainably, i.e. without overfishing or accidentally scooping up other species during fishing. It’s good business for restaurants and seafood purveyors looking to attract the conscientious consumer; in exchange for taking the Good Catch pledge to use sustainable whenever possible, they can display the Good Catch logo.
The monthly dinners combine education with a fabulous fish feast, says Shelley Dearhart, Good Catch manager. Lowcountry Shellfish donated the seafood, and 10 percent of the dinner’s proceeds go back to the Good Catch program.
The evening started with passed appetizers – including a dynamite battered and crab-stuffed shrimp paired with bubbly Prosecco from Italy’s Zardetto family.
Servers presented oysters prepared three ways – half-shell, Rockefeller, and fried – along with a Mondavi Fume Blanc. Republic National Distributing Company donated all the wines and Republic’s Renee Roscoe explained that Fume Blanc is a “fancy way of saying Sauvignon Blanc,” a wine whose mineral and green apple taste pairs well with the rich oysters.
Each course was accompanied by a relevant nugget of seafood information. During the oyster course, Dearhart urged the diners to recycle any oyster roast shells with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources since they can be used as the foundation for new oyster clusters.
Carolina trout was served with its skin crispy and floating in a savory spinach, clam and artichoke broth with littleneck clams. The briny sauce paired well with the wine, a golden Regaleali Bianco from the volcanic soil near Sicily.
The entrée was a prosciutto-wrapped swordfish, meaty enough to stand up to a superb Pinot Noir.
The dessert, a ginger pumpkin tart with bourbon whipped crème fraiche, continued the local theme with a dusting of Bulls Bay Sea Salt.
“We’re trying to get consumers to learn a little about their seafood, to ‘ask before you order’,” says Dearhart.
Want some fish whose origins aren’t “fishy?” The next Good Catch dinner is January 7 at the Charleston Harbor Fish House. Tickets can be purchased here.
photographs by Ferris Kaplan