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Good catch! Mumbai experts dish on how to spot iffy fish

‘The current and future waves of the sea’ was organised as part of the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival’s food section powered by Bertolli

mumbai Updated: Feb 06, 2018 00:05 IST
Anesha George
Anesha George
Hindustan Times
Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival,basa,tuna
Members of the panel discussion at Artisans' on Monday.(Aalok Soni/HT)

Is the basa fillet on your plate an unblemished white? However appetising it may look, the reason behind this could be that most of the basa imported into India from Vietnam is bleached.

“The original basa is more yellow,” said Hussain Shahzad, executive chef at the Goan-cuisine restaurant O Pedro. “Similarly, bright red raw tuna may have been treated with carbon monoxide, so it’s safer to go for tuna that’s a dull pink.”

Shahzad was at an event titled ‘The current and future waves of the sea’, organised as part of the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival’s food section powered by Bertolli.

Panellists Shubham Karchaudhuri, president of Mumbai’s Food Truck Association, Ketki Jog from KnowYourFish.org.in, Kumud Dadlani of Impresario Hospitality, seafood retailer Junaid Daruwala and Shahzad discussed what they considered the most disturbing aspects of the fishing industry, and its impact on the marine ecology and on diners.

Ketki Jog, a researcher with the website Know Your Fish, discussed the importance of knowing when to eat a particular kind of fish. “Surmai or kingfish, for instance, should not be eaten between March and May and between October and November because that is when they breed on the western coast,” she said. “If you want to be a responsible consumer, avoid eating fish in their prime breeding months, to avoid disrupting their reproduction cycle.”

Her website accordingly offers details on the breeding cycles of various fish popular as seafood in Mumbai and elsewhere in coastal India.

Try and find out where your fish comes from, was another common refrain during the session.

“With inland fish-farming growing, the problem is lack of regulation; you can’t be sure some are not being treated with chemicals or antibiotics to boost yield,” said Daruwalla. “For instance, India is the largest producer of farm-reared shrimps,” he added.

In the audience were seafood-lovers, hospitality students and food entrepreneurs.

Ashwin Ramachandran, 30, who is looking to open his own restaurant, said he wanted to know how to be a conscious consumer and entrepreneur. “I was interested in knowing more about the science of sustainable food production, and this has certainly given me a different perspective on being responsible while utilising resources,” he said.

Sumeet Patil, 22, who is studying hotel management, said he found the session informative . “I never put much thought into what fish I eat,” he said. “I love eating prawns and shark but now I’m definitely going to pick other options during their breeding months.”

First Published: Feb 06, 2018 00:05 IST