Sustainable (and tasty) fish

It’s up to us, as consumers, to help tackle the plight of the world’s dwindling fish stocks


If global fishing is not managed properly, it’s estimated that all fish stock will collapse in 50 years. In short: no more tasty fish dishes. Ever.

Much of the problem lies with you and me: the consumers. Unless we curb our appetite for endangered species, they will continue to be overfished. At present it’s thought that local favourite hammour is being extracted from the ocean at seven times the sustainable rate and, according to research conducted by local government agencies, hammour is just one of eight endangered species of fish in UAE waters.

‘The difficulty with hammour is that people choose it because it’s familiar and easy to cook, says Nessrine Alzahlawi of the Emirates Wildlife Association (EWF). ‘We’ve launched the Sustainable Fish Dish Challenge to demonstrate that it can be fun to cook tasty and delicious recipes that are healthy and environmentally friendly, so you don’t have to compromise on taste.’ Recipes are judged by an online voting system, with the highest-rated recipes being published in a special sustainable seafood cookbook.

The UAE’s hotels are also starting to do their bit to protect fish stocks. The Royal Méridien in Abu Dhabi has joined the EWF to promote the consumption of sustainable seafood, with executive chef Olivier Loreaux creating sustainable menus for the hotel’s four restaurants. Time Out hopes it’s only a matter of time before Dubai’s hotels follow suit.

In the meantime, we asked two of the city’s top chefs to create their own sustainable fish recipes, which they’ll submit for inclusion in the EWF seafood cookbook. Why not try them for yourself?
Entries for the Sustainable Fish Dish Challenge can be submitted online at The closing date is October 15

Fish-friendly meals

Since many of Dubai’s restaurants are yet to publish their own sustainable seafood menus,we asked two of Dubai’s top chefs to prepare environmentally friendly recipes for your dining pleasure.
Roasted butterfly emperor with wild garlic risotto
by executive chef Max Grenard at Aquara, Dubai Marina Yacht Club
100g arborio rice
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 bunch wild garlic
1 shallot, chopped
50ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
50ml white wine
300ml chicken stock

20g grated parmesan
15ml heavy cream (optional)
Pink-ear emperor
4x 250g whole pink-ear emperor
Salt and pepper to taste
50ml olive oil
5ml lime juice


1 Blend the butter and wild garlic in a food processor to a fine purée. Pass through a sieve and set aside.

2 Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, then sauté until soft.

3 Add the rice and stir for a minute before adding white wine. Gradually add the stock while constantly stirring and simmering the rice until the liquid is absorbed, adding more stock as needed until the rice is cooked.

4 Add the wild garlic and butter mixture, salt and pepper to taste and the Parmesan. Stir in the cream if desired.

Pink-ear emperor
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C. Slit the fish, removing the centre bone, leaving the head and tail.

2 Season with salt, pepper and lime juice. Heat the oil in a large skillet over a high heat until very hot.

3 Sear the fish on both sides until golden brown, then finish in the oven for eight minutes.

4 Place a serving of risotto in the pocket of the emperor fish. Garnish with fried basil leaves, diced tomatoes and parmesan tuile.

Suquet (Catalan fish stew)
by chef de cuisine Angel Zapata at Ossiano, Atlantis The Palm
800g Ehrenberg’s snapper
750ml fish stock
325g sofrito (tomato/onion paste)
350g ratte potato (toasted)
25g freshly chopped parsley

25g roasted garlic
25g pine nuts
25g almonds
25g hazelnuts
25g toasted white bread
5x nyora red peppers

Sofrito (aromatic base)
1 Dice the onions and garlic finely.

2 Sauté the onions and garlic over a low heat until slightly golden.

3 Add the sugar and diced tomato and sauté to a fine ragout.

Picada (seasoned sauce)
1 Soak the nyora red peppers in cold water overnight.

2 Grate the toasted bread and the nuts, then toss.

3 Add the chopped peppers and set to one side.

Suquet (stew)
1 Roast the fish in a casserole dish.

2 Remove fish; roast the potatoes in the same dish until golden.

3 Add the sofrito and sauté.

4 Deglaze with white wine and allow to evaporate.

5 Add the fish juices until potatoes are almost covered, then simmer until potatoes are completely soft.

6 Add the roasted fish and finish with picada and parsley.

Sustainable choices

Orange-spotted trevally (jesh um al hala), two-bar sea bream (faskar), black-streaked monocle bream (ebzimi), yellow-bar angelfish (anfooz), pink-ear emperor (shaari eshkeli), sordid sweetlips (yanam), Ehrenberg’s snapper (naiser)

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