Its been said that ignorance is bliss. And yes, in the context of being innocent and unaware (like a child at play), or entering that meditative space of ‘no thought’ (as a conscious adult), your bliss is unhindered by the external reality that surrounds you. I wish I could be in that state of being more often!
The enormity of the problem with agribusiness - the mass torture and slaughter of animals and the pollution and degradation of the environment - is what is, at this point in history. But thinking about it and seeing its terrible effects on social media, sickens me. When I first started to write this food blog I simply wanted to help shift the Primal/Paleo fraternity away from their avid consumption of meat by inspiring them to eat more vegetarian meals. I would even argue that the Primal/Paleo diet was not primarily meat-based but rather a preponderance of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds…and that termites were probably our ancestors main source of animal protein.
I didn't expect to subsequently be confronted with compelling evidence for not eating fish too. Stupid of me. Ego runs humanity and the collective ego is culturally conditioned into believing that, as ‘masters of the universe’, human beings have a divine right to subjugate all of nature to its will. Apparently unstoppable, greed and exploitation knows no bounds. Whilst painfully aware that overfishing currently threatens many species of fish and the importance of sustainability, I hadn’t bargained for what is really going on under the sea.
It’s not that I am intrinsically opposed to eating meat or fish. It really does depend on the context. I still have to buy and prepare organic free-range chicken and pork and line-caught tuna for my cat Sushi to eat (it is a biological necessity for cats to eat meat) and, if I had the skills to skin and gut a fresh road kill, we’d probably eat that too. But ‘growing’ meat in appalling conditions on factory farms, polluting the rivers and oceans with animal excrement, cutting down acres of rain forest to grow grain for livestock to feed the privileged few whilst millions starve, to use man-made devices to harm and kill all the creatures under the sea is both heartbreaking and unnecessary.
Already eighty-five per cent vegetarian, there’s a part of me that would like to be vegan. I just know my body wouldn't be happy with the choice. I don’t eat meat on compassionate grounds. I can’t eat grains because I’ve fully experienced their inflammatory effect in my body. I try to avoid potatoes (although I only have personal anecdotal evidence that they’re not good for me) as well as legumes (dried beans, chickpeas, lentils etc.) because they contain anti-nutrients. Instead I rely on plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, vegetarian cheese, organic free-range eggs, raw milk from grass-fed cows and what hitherto I thought was sustainably-sourced wild or organic fish for a healthy, low-carb, protein-packed diet. However, fish will be off the menu if eating it means I’m inadvertently supporting the super-trawler industrialised version of fishing.
I’ve asked my fabulous fishmonger Terry (contact: email@example.com), who always fetches the best of ‘today’s catch’ directly from the docks and delivers it straight to my door, if he can reassure me that the fish I’m buying is responsibly and sustainably caught. Unfortunately, sustainability won’t make overfishing disappear - to solve that problem, we all need to eat less fish. Supporting the work of organisations like Greenpeace and Compassion In World Farming also helps keep food shoppers informed. Greenpeace have named Marks & Spencer as being the best UK supermarket to buy fish from. However, some fisheries do get the MSC logo for just ‘working towards’ sustainable fishing rather than actually fishing sustainably! If you’re in any doubt, don’t buy.
So now you know that eating fish is not inconsequential, I want to mindfully share with you this tasty recipe for Grilled Hake in a Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini. It is colourful, it is delicious, it is low carb. It is a beautiful looking, healthy, nutritious dish - everything that Primal Plate wants to promote for a healthier you - but is that enough?
If you think it is, Grilled Hake in Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini is one of the best ways I know to healthily celebrate the fact that there are still fish left in the sea for us to eat and enjoy. I hope it doesn’t prove to be my last fishy hurrah on Primal Plate’s blog. The jury’s still out.
Grilled Hake in Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini (Serves 4)
4 x 200g thick, sustainably sourced (MSC) hake fillets, skin-on, pin-boned & descaled
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little melted butter - for brushing
100ml white wine
1 dsp Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder
2 dsp Clearspring tamari soy sauce
100g unsalted butter, chilled
1 tsp arrowroot
2 medium carrots
2 medium courgettes
2 medium leeks
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and finely diced
1 heaped tbsp finely chopped coriander
For the grilled hake: put the fish, skin-side down, on a large shallow dish or plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.
For the broth: put the water, wine, bouillon powder and soy sauce into a pan and boil rapidly until it has reduced by a third. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean pan and set aside.
Rinse the salt off the fish and dry the fillets on kitchen paper. Brush each piece on both sides with melted butter and put skin-side up on a greased baking tray. Season the skin with sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cover lightly with cling film and set aside.
To prepare the vegetables: use only the white part of the leek, peel the carrot, trim the courgette, then spiralise the courgette and carrot into tagliolini - alternatively, use a sharp knife or mandolin to cut the vegetables down lengthways before then slicing again with a sharp knife into thin strips.
Preheat the grill to high.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl or mug, combine 1 tsp. arrowroot powder and 1 dsp. water to make a thin slurry. Re-heat the broth to boiling point then add a spoonful of the hot buttery broth into the arrowroot paste and combine well. Tip the arrowroot mixture back into the saucepan whilst stirring continuously. Allow the broth to cook on a very low heat until it thickens.
Remove the cling film and grill the hake for 8 minutes on one side only.
Whilst the hake is grilling, gradually whisk 75g chilled butter, cut into small cubes, into the hot broth to make a silky smooth sauce. Keep warm.
Just before the fish is ready, melt the reserved 25g butter in a frying pan. Stir-fry the prepared vegetables until just softened but still crisp. Season to taste.
Remove the cooked hake from the grill and allow to rest for a minute or two. Bring the broth back to just below boiling point and add the finely diced tomatoes and chopped coriander leaf.
Serve the fish on a nest of vegetable tagliolini with the tomato herb broth spooned round.
Don’t put the fish too close to the heat source - about 15cm (6”) away from the grill will allow the fish to cook through perfectly without scorching the skin.
Carbohydrate 13g Protein 42g per serving