TIME was when we did not care too much about where our seafood was coming from. We had bountiful fish and seafood in the ocean, and that’s all that mattered. We had a lot, but we wanted more, and so our fishermen fished like there was no tomorrow. Not realizing what kind of negative impact it would have on the supply chain, they began employing destructive ways to ensure bigger harvests. And then the corals died, and the number of fish in the sea dwindled alarmingly. Some even made it to the list of endangered species under threat of extinction if we did not change our ways.
Now the whole world is taking not just notice but also concrete steps towards preserving what we have and propagating it so that our seas may become bountiful once again. Sustainable fishing is the key. That is, employing ethical ways of fishing and taking only what we need. No overfishing. No destructive fishing. Leaving species that are near extinction alone to allow them the chance to propagate and grow in number. Turning to locally sourced fish varieties that are bountiful in number and creating delicious dishes with them.
Recognizing that the future of our oceans are at stake and knowing that everyone needs to do his (or her) share in working to reverse the tide, several hotels and restaurants who share a common goal—to promote sustainable seafood—have come together to establish an open and dynamic platform for interested stakeholders to discuss the status, challenges and solutions toward more sustainable seafood in the Philippines and offer specifically that—sustainable seafood—on their respective menus.
This week, February 15 to 21, 2016, Manila launches its first ever Sustainable Seafood Week. Working with the Department of Agriculture, USAID, Bloomberg Philantropies, Meliomar, Fish Forever, Blue You, Rare, Centre for Sustainability, PEMSEA and GreenPeace are Hyatt City of Dreams Manila, Gallery Vask, Enderun Colleges, Marriott Hotel Manila, Marco Polo Ortigas, Catch, The Peninsula Manila, Disciples Escoffier, Makati Shangri-La Manila, Edsa Shangri-La Manila, Shangri-La at The Fort, Le Club, Raffles Hotel Makati, Fairmont Makati, New World Makati Hotel and Hooch.
Manila’s Sustainable Seafood Week is a series of seminars, masterclasses and technical workshops as well as sustainable seafood menus, both on the buffet spread and on the a la carte menu, for the entire week.
While the event was launched at Gallery Vask this morning, Monday, February 15, 2016, Makati Shangri-La Manila hosted its own intimate lunch for online food writers and bloggers at Sage Bespoke Grill to introduce its own participation in the Sustainable Seafood Week.
The group first toured the buffet spread of Circles Event Café to check out its sustainable seafood offerings for the week, including Pinaksiw na Matangbaka (Sour Purse-eyed Scad), Cuttlefish Adobo, Flying Fish Escabeche, Parrotfish with Black Bean Sauce, Pampano and Tilapia among the hot dishes, and quite a variety of raw fish on ice for grilling. Circles is offering Sustainable Fish and Seafood Lunch and Dinner Buffets from today until Saturday, February 20, at Php1,280 nett per person. It highlights the best practice of the “farm-to-table” principle, getting only the freshest produce directly from the source.
Afterwards, the group headed back to Sage Bespoke Grill for a relaxed sit-down lunch that began with appetizers of Matang-baka Sisig (diced matang-baka fish meat cooked sisig style), Tuna Tartare (shaped like a quenelle and served on a piece of toasted baguette slice) and Snapper Kilawin (fresh chopped snapper meat prepared with coconut milk and vinegar, served in a shot glass).
The formal sit-down course began with Parrotfish Ceviche Leche de Tigre Peruvian Style, a lovely fresh kilawin served in a triangular glass placed over a round glass filled with ice to retain the fish’s freshness.
Following it was Tomato and Oregano Algarvio Gaspacho, Baby Squid a la Plancha, a cold soup that was fully loaded with diced bell pepper, curls of scored squid.
The main entrée is a choice between Beltfish and Skin Chips, Spicy Dilled Tartar Sauce, Garden Greens and Josper Grill White Snapper, Manila Clams and Tomatoes with Chorizo. Today, we had the Josper Grill White Snapper, a perfect piece of snapper fillet, cooked to a crispy-on-the-outside-and-tender-on-the-inside doneness, served with clams, chorizo slices, asparagus spears, mini broccoli florets and beurre blanc foam on the fish. The flavors, textures and colors came together beautifully. It was so good!
Dessert formally ended the meal. The Caramelized Pineapple Crumble with Star Anise and Vanilla Sauce was a pineapple version of Apple Crumble in a bowl. The pineapple filling at the bottom was not too sweet, and the crumble on top gave the baked dessert a perfect crunch. No, there was no seafood in this one, come on.
Sage Bespoke Grill presents a three-course lunch menu for Php980++ and a give-course dinner menu for Php1,980++ this week. Both special set menus highlight dishes with ingredients sourced locally.
Makati Shangri-La’s Sustainable Seafood Week offerings support the Rooted in Nature philosophy of Shangri-La hotels and resorts all over the world. This sustainability program aims to focus on using locally and ethically sourced ingredients for the hotels’ culinary requirements. It also aims to celebrate the efforts of local suppliers who source sustainable seafood and to offer higher-quality cuisine to diners.
“The future of seafood is in the hands of our chefs and the people preparing the fish while ensuring that fresh sustainable seafood is available for out valued customers to enjoy. We call upon consumers to do their share by being vigilant and conscious about the source of seafood they are eating,” says Chef Paul Lenz, area executive chef for Shangri-La Philippine properties.
(Makati Shangri-La Manila is located at Ayala Ave. corner Makati Ave., Makati City; with telephone number 813-8888.)