Shifting focus…

Posted on November 15, 2012 by

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We’ve been quiet here at the New IPO for a while, yes, a very long while. Our fearless leader got the crazy idea that it was time for graduate school, packed her bags and headed to the coast to work on her Masters in Coastal and Watershed Science and Policy with an emphasis on the marine environment. She noted the first two semesters were fantastic, challenging and left no time for doing laundry or grocery shopping much less blogging.

In an attempt to return to the real world, and because the marine environment poses such interesting questions, Lisa is returning to the world of the blog. This week a simple story on eating local, marine style.

Local Catch Monterey is the brain child of Oren Frey and Alan Lovewell. These entrepreneurial souls met while in graduate school at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and hatched a plan to bring local, sustainably harvested fish to fish lovers trying to do the right thing by their environment. Frey spent a year as a California Sea Grant Fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and during his time there their mission emerged – they’d set up a CSA styled group for fish eaters. Lovewell also had the pleasure of serving as a Sea Grant Fellow, spending his year with the Western Governor’s Alliance on Ocean Health.

Each week locals Monterey and Santa Cruz counties go to their local pick up spot and fetch fresh, locally caught seafood, sometimes knowing a few days ahead of time what the week has in store but other times not finding out until the day of delivery. The delightful mysteries have ranged from sablefish to abalone. It’s a wonderful surprise and, as CSA lovers know, an interesting challenge to come up with a meal at the spur of the moment.

What makes Local Catch Monterey Bay, and other Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) great is their support of local fishers and a drive towards sustainable fishing practices. The fishers for Local Catch work within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and abide by the local regulations, which vary by area, regarding fishing practices.

This week Lisa’s catch was Opah (Lampris guttatus), sometimes called sunfish, moonfish or kingfish these babies can grow to over 3′ in height and weigh nearly 200 pounds. Not a lot is known about their life history and there are reports of opah weighing over 600 pounds. They are a tropical and temperate water species caught from New Zealand to California by longline fishers targeting tuna.

Each week’s catch comes with details about the fish and fishers, where and when the fish were caught as well as recipe ideas. This week’s opah benefited from a recently added cookbook – Chez Panisse Vegetables, and a lovely recipe for Fennel-infused broth with Halibut.

After being part of a CSF for some time now, Lisa appreciates the whimsy of unexpected delights and the challenge of building a meal around an unknown main ingredient. It’s not Iron Chef but it is tricky.
{In addition to eating local fish, attending an amazing grad school and occasionally grocery shopping, Lisa Jensen enjoyed writing about herself in the third person for this piece. It’s a weird thing to do and not likely to happen again, well, perhaps much, in the future but it worked. She didn’t mock herself as much as perhaps she should have and leaves that to readers and her labmates.}

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