FROM THIS EPISODE
Shrimp is the most popular seafood eaten in the US. Americans consume 1.3 billion pounds of it each year, which amounts to roughly four pounds per person. Very little shrimp eaten here comes from local waters: Thailand dominates the market and half of the country's shrimp exports end up on American tables.
Two years ago, a team of Associated Press reporters discovered forced labor and human trafficking in the supply chain, and the AP has been publishing the findings since in a remarkable multimedia series called “Seafood from slaves.” The project recently won the 2015 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting and the George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting.
Martha Mendoza, a national writer for the AP, takes us back to the moment when she and her colleagues decided to focus their collective investigative reporting lens on the Thai shrimp industry. LA listeners can learn more about “Seafood from Slaves” from Martha in person at USC over lunch on April 15. RSVP for the luncheon here.
Music: "Cañamo Medico" by EarthRise Sound System and "Green Arrow" by Yo La Tengo
The downside to knowing more about where your food comes from is that nagging moral sense telling you it's time to make a change. So if we want to eat shrimp that is grown sustainably and locally, what are our options? We get some answers from Paul Greenberg, a journalist who can make a book on seafood as engaging as any mystery novel. He wrote the James Beard Award-winning book Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food and American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood.
While we're on the subject of sustainable seafood, head to the Good Food blog to see what's for sale at Cape Seafood and Provisions. Michael Cimarusti, the chef and co-owner at Providence and Connie & Ted's, opened Cape Seafood in West Hollywood with his team last month. We're still thinking about the Santa Barbara spot prawns cooked in piles of 500-degree kosher salt and rosemary that culinary director Brandon Gray cooked for us at the shop. Outstanding.
Music: "Bus Stop Boxer" by The Eels
Next we move from crustaceans to shellfish. At the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, Laura Avery shops with Brian Sheard, chef at Taste on Melrose, as he picks up fennel to be sauteed and added to a dish of steamed mussels, Point Reyes blue cheese and white wine sauce. Sheard says the fennel grown this time of year is the most flavorful. He makes use of the entire plant, from bulb to feathery top. Find the recipe for those dreamy mussels with fennel, Point Reyes blue and grilled garlic crostini on the Good Food blog.
Laura also gets a primer on growing fennel from Mark Carpenter of Coastal Farms. Fennel is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean so it's perhaps not surprising that it tastes incredible with fish. Fennel doesn't grow well in hot weather so Carpenter grows his crops during the cooler times of the year. He harvests once at the end of summer, once during the fall and once in the spring.
Music: "Hit 'Em Up" (instrumental) by 2Pac
If seasonal seafood is your bag, might we suggest a visit to Dudley Market in Venice Beach? That's where you'll find chef Jesse Barber pairing mussels, scallops and sea urchin with stinging nettles, borage flowers and pickled nasturtium pods, among other intriguing ingredients. Jonathan Gold gives the menu his seal of approval on the show this week. Get his favorite dishes on the Good Food blog and read his review of Dudley Market for the LA Times.
9 Dudley Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
Music: "C.R.E.A.M." by The Wu-Tang Clan
The famed Portland gourmand James Beard once wrote that oysters are best eaten on the half shell “with nothing to enhance them except lemon, a bit of grated fresh horseradish or a mignonette pepper sauce. If you do not like the natural flavor of oysters and find you must cover them with quantities of red cocktail sauce then perhaps you shouldn't be eating them.”
Cynthia Nims takes a slightly different tack in her latest cookbook, Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home a Taste of the Sea. Nims tells us she can get behind almost any way to get a hesitant eater to give this bivalve a try, even if it's frying up oysters that come out of a jar.
Find her recipe for oyster sliders with Japanese togarashi slaw on the Good Food blog. While you're there, check out a Q&A we did with Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement about pesticide use in oyster beds in Washington state. Some of the information Clement shares might surprise you.
We wrap up this week's show at sea with an audio postcard from our executive editor Gillian Ferguson. She went fishing off the Santa Barbara coast with Ben Hyman of Wild Local Seafood last month. You can check out what Hyman reels in every week at the Santa Monica, Mar Vista and Hollywood farmers' markets. Or visit the first brick-and-mortar Wild Local Seafood store at the Ventura Harbor. The shop opens on April 11.
Music: "Surfer's Stomp" by The Mar-Kets