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November 18, 2008

Alan Wong's Fish-Friendly "Farmers Series"

Alan and Brooks
Wong and Takenaka talk fish.
Photo: alanwongs.com

by Mollie Chen

At Alan Wong's eponymous Honolulu restaurant, sustainability is served in a silky brown butter sauce and topped with sautéed Hamakua mushrooms. The chef recently partnered with Brooks Takenaka of the city's United Fishing Agency for a special fish-focused "Farmers Series" dinner. Takenaka oversees Honolulu's weekly fish auction, a frenzied dawntime affair complete with high-paced bartering and butchering. There, he's usually on hand to talk about the best way to choose fish (with your eyes and nose) and how to be a responsible consumer (seek out sustainable varieties of fish and do your homework).

Instead of big-name local varieties like opakapaka and ono, the Farmers Series menu highlights lesser known--but equally delicious--types of indigenous fish. Mild yellowfin tuna is paired with tart yuzu red onions and silky bigeye tuna topped with spicy coconut milk. Shutome, a firm local swordfish, is served with yuzu brown butter and balanced on a yuba-encased lobster cake, while flaky opah, or moonfish, comes with sugar-sweet local cherry tomatoes and a roasted ulu and warabi ragout. Takenaka heads the recently formed Hawaii Seafood Council, which is working to promote sustainability through events like this, partnerships with local fishermen and consumers, and an information-full Web site, soon to be up and running.

Further reading:
* Seafood Choices Alliance
* Seafood Watch at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
* The New York Times's Mark Bittman ponders the future of fish
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

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