The Hot Plate: One Fish, Two Fish

Posted October 15, 2003 at 2:54pm

When you’re reading a restaurant menu or perusing the seafood case at the grocery store, how often is the ecological impact of your choice weighing on your mind?

Probably not often, two Smithsonian scientists are betting. So Carole Baldwin, star of the IMAX film “Galapagos,” and Julie Mounts put together a cookbook that encourages people to choose sustainable seafood — species that are fished or farmed in a way that does not jeopardize their future.

Baldwin, a marine biologist at the Natural History Museum, and Mounts, a research assistant at the museum, collected nearly 150 recipes from some of America’s most famous chefs for “One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish — The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook.”

The cookbook, which came out this month, aims to help consumers make educated, eco-friendly decisions about the seafood they buy.

“Our philosophy was not to tell people what not to eat,” Baldwin said. Instead the book focuses on what species are good to eat.

The list of contributing chefs reads like a who’s who of the culinary world. Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, Thomas Keller and Emeril Lagasse are just a few of the national celebrities who contributed.

And some of D.C.’s top chefs give their two cents with recipes of their own. Michel Richard of Citronelle offers a recipe for Maine diver scallops in chardonnay sauce, and Todd Gray of Equinox supplies his recipe for jumbo lump crab cakes with arugula and roasted sweet peppers.

Other contributing D.C. chefs include Charlie Palmer of Charlie Palmer Steak, Rob Klink of Oceanaire, Roberto Donna of Galileo, Jeffrey Buben of Bistro Bis and Vidalia, and Jeff Tunks and Cliff Wharton of TenPenh.

The main message, according to Baldwin, is to diversify seafood choices to avoid putting too much strain on any one species.

The recipes — some simple, some more gourmet — are divided into sections by species. Each section provides information about the natural history and conservation status of the species as well as what to look for when buying seafood.

The book also lists species that are fished or farmed in an ecologically sensitive way and explains the issues of ocean sustainability.

Baldwin called the book “a marine conservation project in the form of a cookbook.”

“It’s not only fun for cooks, it’s good for the fish,” she said.

The book, which costs $35, can be ordered from local bookstores, at www.sipress.si.edu or by calling (800) 233-4830.

Pumpkins Need Good Homes. This month, diners at Charlie Palmer Steak can adopt the pumpkin centerpiece from their table to take home and carve up. A minimum donation of $10 is suggested for the pumpkin, and all of the proceeds benefit the Children’s Research Institute at the Children’s National Medical Center.

The pumpkin adoption is part of Charlie Palmer’s and the medical center’s month-long partnership, which culminates in a rooftop cocktail party Oct. 30. Tickets for the party are $125, and all profits go to the Children’s Research Institute. Contact Charlie Palmer at (202) 547-8100 for more information.

Last Chance. Penn Quarter’s FreshFarm market, which debuted this summer, will close for the winter Oct. 30. That leaves just two more weeks to take advantage of the fall produce at the market. A trip last week showed an abundance of apples and pears, fresh pressed cider, apple butter and the summer’s last tomatoes.

The farmer’s market takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays at the north end of Eighth Street Northwest between D and E streets.

The World Is Your Oyster. Old Ebbitt Grill will host its 8th Annual Oyster Riot on Nov. 21 and 22. Last year’s celebration of oysters and the wines that complement them attracted more than 1,600 diners, who consumed 34,000 oysters, and sold out weeks in advance.

Guests are invited to slurp down as many raw oysters as they please and sample wines that were entered in the International Wines for Oysters Competition.

During the Nov. 10 competition, a panel of judges chooses 10 gold medal wines that best complement oysters. Those wines will be served at the Oyster Riot along with more than 20 varieties of oysters from the East and West Coasts.

Tickets are $70 and include wine, oysters, beer and live entertainment. There is a $7 tax and handling fee. Tickets can be ordered online at www.ebbitt.com or by calling (202) 347-4800.