Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar is definitely in the swim when it comes to sustainability. The restaurant recently announced its partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, a program that encourages consumers, restaurants and distributors to make friendly choices for healthy oceans.
Since she started at Jax seventeen years ago -- when the LoDo location was just the second in the homegrown mini-chain -- executive chef Sheila Lucero has made considerable strides regarding sustainable seafood. "We want to continue to be able to serve and eat great seafood for years," Lucero says.
She pushed the restaurant partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch because she strongly believes in educating not only consumers but also the restaurant industry on the importance of raising awareness and sustaining a healthy ocean ecosystem. "I have always been really conscious about where we are getting our products. So I did some homework and I found Monterey Bay Aquarium to be a good partner to further our commitment to the environment," Lucero says.
Lucero's efforts have paid off: Jax Fish House is now the first restaurant group in the state to serve only environmentallyresponsible seafood based on Monterey Based Aquarium standards. The program seeks to teach seafood buyers what types of seafood items are "best choices," which ones are "good alternatives" and which to avoid because the seafood was caught or farmed in ways that can harm the environment.
As outlined by the partnership, Jax uses only items that fall into the "best choices" or "good alternatives" categories, such as the whole grilled branzino or fruit de mer appetizer whose recipes she's sharing.
Whole Grilled Branzino (serves 4, pictured above) Roasted fingerling potatoes, arugula, goat cheese, grilled lemon, sherry vinaigrette
Branzino four 1-pound branzino (also known as Loup de Mer, European sea bass -- ask your fishmonger to gut, and scale your fish before purchasing) 2 lemons, thinly sliced 8 sprigs thyme 4 sprigs parsley 4 sprigs tarragon
1. Rinse branzino under cold water, until water runs clear. Pat dry with a paper towel. 2. Equally divide the lemon slices between the four fish. 3.Place lemon slices, 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 sprig of parsley, and 1 sprig of tarragon inside the cavity of each fish. 4. Set aside in the refrigerator until you are ready to grill. Fingerling potatoes 1 pound fingerling potatoes, quartered lengthwise ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 2 tsp kosher salt 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Place potatoes in a large bowl, toss with oil, and season with salt and pepper. 2. Place seasoned potatoes on a metal sheet tray and roast until potatoes are tender and golden in color, approximately 20-30 minutes. Mustard vinaigrette 1 each shallot, minced 4 oz. sherry vinegar 3 sprigs thyme, stems removed and discarded, leaves minced 1 tsp Dijon 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tsp salt ½ tsp black pepper ½ cup vegetable oil ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Place all ingredients except oils in the blender. 2. Turn blender on medium speed. Slowly add oil until mixture is emulsified.
Assembly 2 lemons, cut in half horizontally 4 cups arugula 4 oz. goat cheese, 1 year aged, shaved thin (Haystack Mountain -- queso de mano)
1. Preheat grill to a medium-high heat. Rub Branzino with oil and season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper. 2. Place fish on grill along with the 4 lemon halves, cut-side down. 3. Grill the Branzino for 6-7 minutes per side. 4. As fish are cooking, place roasted potatoes in a large bowl and add arugula. Toss with half the sherry vinaigrette.
On four long plates, place dressed potatoes and arugula down the middle -- essentially long enough for the fish to lie on. Place pieces of shaved cheese on top of potatoes and arugula. Lay grilled branzino on top and drizzle the fish with the rest of the vinaigrette. Place one grilled lemon half on each plate. Serve and enjoy. Keep reading for the fruit de mer appetizer recipe .
Fruit de mer (serves 8 as an appetizer) Seafood 1 pound squid 1.5 pound shrimp, 61-70 size, cleaned and peeled, and deveined 1 pound clams, rinsed .5 pound mussels, rinsed
Court Bouillon 8 qt. water ½ yellow onion, roughly chopped 2 carrots, peeled, roughly chopped 4 stalks celery, rinsed and roughly chopped 6 garlic cloves, smashed 2 bay leaves 15 black peppercorns 5 juniper berries 2 stems thyme 3 stems parsley 1 cup dry white wine ¼ cup white vinegar * Liberally add salt to taste
1. Combine all the court bouillon ingredients into a large stockpot, and bring up to boil. 2. Turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes. 3. Strain out the solid ingredients through a fine strainer; reserve liquid and place back on stove.
Squid 1. Rinse squid thoroughly and set tentacles aside, chopping the tubes into ½" rings. 2. Place tubes and tentacles into a slotted pot insert, and drop into the boiling bouillon. 3. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Quickly place cooked tubes and tentacles in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. 4. Once squid is chilled, remove from ice water and pat dry.
Shrimp Repeat this cooking process with the shrimp. Shrimp may need to be cooked a minute longer than the squid. Once cooked, place shrimp in ice water to stop the cooking process. Once the shrimp are chilled, remove from ice water and pat dry.
Clams and Mussels 1. Starting with the clams. Place them in the slotted pot and drop them into the boiling bouillon. 2. Once clams open, place them in the ice water to cool down. 3. Do the same procedure with the mussels. Keep in mind, the mussels will open faster than clams. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open.
Assembly ¼ cup basil, chiffonade ½ jalapeno, brunoised ¼ cup tarragon, minced 1 tsp garlic, minced 1 tbsp shallot, minced ¼ cup red wine vinegar ¼ tsp sugar 2 lemons, juiced ¼ cup first press extra virgin olive oil
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1. Combine all nine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. 2. In a large bowl, combine the squid, shrimp, clams and mussels. 3. Pour liquid marinade/mixture over seafood.Follow @CafeWestword