The Beef Alternative: Tips for Serving Up Sustainable Fish

Ways to keep it eco-conscious with your seafood fare

If you’re cooking to impress with your main entrée, red meats—specifically fine cuts of steak—have been the go-to dish for decades. 

But as Marriott’s VP of Culinary and Global Corporate Chef Brad Nelson tells us, that tried-and-true dish tradition is quickly shifting. 

“One of the biggest culinary trends we are seeing today is the gravitation toward fish in entrées as opposed to beef or chicken,” Nelson says. 

But as Nelson goes on to explain, although people (and meeting attendees in general) are more health-conscious than ever, there’s more to serving fish at events than scooping up the latest catch from the farmers market. Specifically, buying the wrong type of fish from the wrong supplier could inadvertently contribute to the endangerment of species and environments. 

From getting to the bottom of your sources to which fish to serve up, here are some tips to keep your kitchen sustainable.

Know Your Fish

With an estimated 20 percent of the world’s catch and nearly 50 percent of business in some fisheries considered illegal, overfishing—and unethical fishing practices—is more rampant than ever. That means not all fish will be suitable to serve at your event. 

The grassroots environmental awareness organization GreenPeace lists endangered or threatened aquatic species––several of which have been traditionally popular to serve, including Bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass. 

Nelson recommends sticking to salmon or oysters. Catfish, albacore tuna and tilapia are also among the safest bets. 

Develop a Transparent Relationship with Your Vendors

Choosing a species that’s not endangered or overfished is an excellent starting point—next, you’ll need to know where exactly that fish comes from.

Be upfront with your vendors and suppliers about knowing your entrée’s origins. If the vendors aren’t willing to divulge where they’re getting their supply, you might be drawing from a stock that was caught illegally. 

Use as Much of the Fish as You Can 

Although most fish sustainability comes from picking suppliers and species, there are also things you can do in the kitchen to contribute. Try to use as much of the fish as possible, including bones for things like broth. This can help decrease the need for extra shipments.  

Spread the Word

While doing your part to conserve ocean wildlife is crucial, it’s only the first step. Be sure to alert your attendees of your eco-initiatives ahead of time and spread the word.