So, as you can tell, I’ve spent quite a bit of time experimenting with various lifestyles to find what fits me best. I’ve always been into health and fitness but, as a Chef, it’s WAY TOO EASY to give in to excess and carelessness and just indulge in anything and everything, (which I’ve done in the past). Honestly, when I had at whatever I wanted, I would get bored. It’s not that I’m a big fan of conformity or break-back rules but I felt like a spoiled brat having at whatever dead animal I could find and it’s been bothering me for a long time now.
So, I’ve been looking into ways to adapt to a program! I love programs! Exercise programs, scheduling daily goals, etc. I feel a gleaming sense of accomplishment when I hit achievement-high-marks, large or small. Yet, I’m not OCD about it. I’m not spastic or neurotic. I LOVE living care-free but I prefer to do it within some sort of reason. Does that make sense? lol ~I guess it’s all about finding a balance. Which perfectly describes my dietary quest!
Balance! Over the years, (some recently documented on this blog), I’ve done the raw vegan thing, the vegetarian thing, tried quite a few detoxes/cleanses and then I came to Pescetarianism, which builds heavily off a classic Mediterranean diet, (which I LOVE!) ~And, I think I’ve found a home.
Firstly, I grew up and still live in Texas. All the stuff you see and hear about reguarding our INFATUATION with meat and smoking everything TO DEATH, (gogo BBQ overdose. . .?) is true. My dad was always a BBQ maniac, had to slap EVERYTHING on that grill and smoke it into oblivion. I mean, the animal is already dead. No need to kill it again! ~I’ve had my fill. :p
~Anyway, did you know there’s only ONE Vegetarian restaurant in my city of San Antonio, Texas? Sad, huh? It’s called GREEN and it’s fantastic! As a tourist city (and one of the largest Metropolises in the United States), San Antonio has plenty of places that offer vegetarian and vegan selections but the general atmosphere is pretty carnivorous.
I’ve wanted to change that influence within myself for a long time. I’ve researched my choices and former lifestyles ENDLESSLY, (researching is quite the hobby of mine, as anyone who knows me can confirm), and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t NEED all that meat! As far as proteins go, the insane amounts of vegetable proteins out there do a body well, (Quinoa, Chia, Tempeh -Oh-My!), and Pescetarianism allows dairy & eggs so it’s not like there is any deprivation going on here. Also, I’ve been interested in eliminating growth hormones from my body. As a Chef, I know from where to source hormone free, free range, pampered product but if I’m going out somewhere, there’s no way I can know if what I’m eating meets the personal standards I’ve set for myself. But does that beg the question if going Pescetarian has anything to do with waxing Philosophical?
Kinda yes, kinda no. It may sound selfish, but my first intention is to better my own body. And I just don’t feel like I need all that meat. Granted, I LOVE seafood. Just love it. When I was on my raw vegan stints and vegetarian stints, while I was fulfilled, I had an outstanding longing for the seafare I’ve always enjoyed. As it goes, some of the healthiest proteins and fats come from the sea – even non-fishy sorts like seaweed! – so I feel I’ve found a middle ground in my desire to better my body and lessen my carbon footprint.
But this brings us to point of endangered species of the sea. I’m quite concerned about the way commercial fisheries operate and the manner in which we’re depleting things like Blacktip Sharks. The photo of a shark steak in this post is probably the last you’ll see from me because I feel really bad we’re fishing them into extinction. As with most things, the human race is overdoing it and I’d like to help fix it or contribute to making it better anyway I can. ~By the way, that was a damn good dish I made, (Olive Oil Poached Blacktip Shark Steak). >.> C’est la vie. . .
Granted, I still have LOTS of researching to do. I know where to source lots and lots of farm raised seafood and I’m a pretty damn good fisherman myself so I’m a step up in that reguard. But my feeling is, if I’m going to do this Pescetarian thing, I’m going to do it the best, most responsible way possible. That’s through education, information & respect for the world I live in.
Will this be where my dietary adventures stop? I don’t know, honestly. I know it’s working for me NOW. Does that mean I’ll fall back on old habits? I’d like to say NO, but I’m not perfect. And! If I fuck up, I’ll be sure to let all of you know because that’s part of taking responsibility for one’s actions. Will I end up a full-blown Vegetarian, even Vegan, one day? Probably lol. And that’d be pretty cool. I never felt better than during Raw Vegan Adventures but I just LOVE cooking things. When I’m fixing things in the kitchen, it’s not just work or technique. It’s passion AND very therapeutic! It’s just what I do. Also, I don’t intend to stop preparing what others want. These decisions I’m making are for me, personally. I have NO intention of forcing my choices on anyone else by saying, “Oh, well I don’t eat steak anymore so I refuse to cook you one!” ~I feel decisions like these are arrived at after a bit of a journey and it’s out of my boundaries to place any restrictions on how another person lives their life. I’ll be a travel-pal to any person along any journey they want or desire company on. While we’re on whatever road we’re on, if they want some hot wings, I’ll fix ‘em some hot wings. And they’ll be the best goddamn hot wings ever.
As for me, personally, I’m doing a few things differently and already feel tons better for it.
Olive Oil Poached Blacktip Shark w/ Horseradish Mashed Taters
*Recipe for an intimate dinner for 2*
2 Blacktip Shark Steaks
2 cups Extra Virign Olive Oil (maybe more or less, we’ll see)
Herbes de Provence
Grains of Paradise or Freshly Ground Mixed Pepper Corns
Fresh Lemon (Zest + Juice)
Earth Balance (your choice!)
Chopped Scallion for garnish
Fresh Parsley for garnish
(like in the photo, Fresh Blackberries for garnish)
Marinade the shark steaks in about a cup of olive oil, 2 tsp’s fresh lemon zest, 4-6 large fresh basil leaves, torn to release fragrance and 4-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary. 30 mins to an hour before preparing works but overnight is best, if you can swing it.
Next, heat a large stew pot or saucepan over LOW heat. Remove shark from marinade and season well with sea salt, pepper or Grains of Paradise & Herbes de Provence. Add olive oil marinade to cooking vessel, followed by the steaks. If anymore olive oil is needed, add now so that the steaks are JUST submerged. Cover and pamper these babies for a good 10-12 mins. Again, we want our oil WARM. You should be just about able to stick your finger in it, so low to med-low. We want to poach, not deep fry. This is something you’ll have to play around with and get just right based on your stove and your sense of timing! If you need to let these things poach to 15 mins to be comfortable with their level of done-ness, go ahead but after awhile, you’ll get the hang of it!
For the mashed taters! (Again, being from the South, I call ‘em Taters!) Dice 1lb potatoes of your choice. Peeling is OPTIONAL. I like skin in my mash so I never peel them but it’s up to you. Start with a pot of cold water, add potatoes, about a tsp of fresh rosemary, 10-12 fresh basil leaves, 2 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp fresh ground mixed pepper or Grains of Paradise, half a lemon’s juice and – after being careful not to get seeds in your pot – go ahead and add the lemon chunk so it can boil, as well. Cover and bring to a boil. Remain covered and boil for 10-15 mins, or until pierced easily. Once done, drain and remove the lemon chunk.
Next, add to the pot 2-4 tablespoons of your choice of Earth Balance (I used their Vegan Butter sticks, which have a STELLAR flavour), about 1/2=3/4 cup of your desired milk, (I used unflavoured Soy), and as much Horseradish as you can take. Generally, you want to add by the tsp and taste-test. For this recipe, I used 4 tsp and the horseradish DID NOT overtake the flavour of the mash. It was back there, the fragrance of it, but not stinging the tongue. It was so fantastic! But based on what brand of horseradish you buy, this effect will vary and take some experimentation to get correct!
When butter and milk are hot, (not boiling, just hot), remove from heat, add horseradish and rice your taters into it. You may also remove the liquids to a huge bowl and do the combining there, such as rice the taters into the bowl or mash them by hand or with an electric hand mixer. Be sure to get the rosemary and basil in there. You can even add freshly minced garlic or garlic powder! Once that’s done, adjust seasoning to taste.
Uncover the shark. They should look like Mother of Pearl; this delicate, gentle white colour.
To plate, carefully lift steaks with WIDE spatula and allow to drain most of the excess olive oil off, but not all. That oil is part of the prize and part of the flavour. Pile up mashed taters, lay the shark beside, kinda overlapping, spray with lemon, sprinkle with chopped scallions, garnish with parsley & blackberries and Bon Appetit!