MANILA -- Last year, a consortium of like-minded individuals and organizations decided to tackle the problem of seafood sustainability in the Philippines and launched the first-ever Sustainable Seafood Week in the country.
Seafood sustainability as a movement has been around since the 1990s and is an ongoing concern to chefs worldwide, with the issue of overfishing and exploitation of marine resources having made certain species of fish endangered, even here in the Philippines.
Now on its second year, the stage is bigger, noted Meik Brammer, executive chef of Manila Marriott Hotel, which recently hosted the kick-off event for Sustainable Seafood Week Philippines 2017, which happens from February 20-27.
Next week's event has attracted more participating hotels, restaurants, seafood suppliers, environmental groups and non-governmental organizations.
For Christian Schmidradner, general manager of Meliomar, a seafood company and one of the driving forces of the sustainable seafood initiative in the Philippines, this shows "the growing importance placed on the topic of responsible seafood sourcing, implemented traceability, legal fisheries, and improvement of fisheries and aquaculture management."
"We started this movement with the involvement of all stakeholders, and with so many more organizations involved, we can draw more attention to the topic," he said.
Main events for the week include the formal opening and signing of the agreement between the participants of the initiative at the Hyatt City of Dreams on Monday, with Agos offering a special Kinilaw Bar.
Discovery Primea will host the Rare Fish Forever workshop on February 21, while Marco Polo Ortigas will host the same on February 22. Vask Restaurant and Hyatt City of Dreams, meanwhile will both host sustainable seafood masterclasses on February 22 and 23, respectively.
A government working session attended by various concerned groups will be held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza on February 22 to link the sustainable seafood initiative to government efforts, while Endurun will be the location for various NGO workshops by Save Philippine Seas and Marine Wildlife Watch on February 21 and 24.
Interesting activities for the rest of the week include an oyster shucking competition (February 22) and workshop (February 24) with Colin Buckley, as well as a cooking masterclass (February 25) at the New World Manila Bay Hotel.
Beach clean-up efforts in Cavite will also be undertaken by Le Club, Greenpeace and Marriott Manila on the 22nd.
Sustainable Seafood Week Philippines will come to a close with a chef collaboration dinner at the Peninsula Manila.
“It’s important to take the cue in increasing participation of our hospitality industry to address the overfishing in our country," said Vince Cinches, the Philippines’ Oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, who reported that five out of 10 areas in the Philippines are, in fact, overfished.
During the kick-off, the participating hotels like Marriott, Hyatt City of Dreams, New World Hotels, Discovery Leisure Company, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, Peninsula Manila, and Shangri-La Hotels showcased various seafood dishes using ethically sourced seafood. They were also joined by top restaurants Agos, Vask, and Grind, as well as culinary school, Enderun.
Here are some dishes that you can order during Sustainable Seafood Week.
Chef Myke Sarthou served refreshing Tuna Kinilaw, and Mahi-Mahi Pianggang. His pianggang dish was one of the favorites of the night – the fish stood up to the flavor bomb that was Sarthou’s pianggang made of burnt coconut, and various spices. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Discovery Leisure Company
Selva shrimp was the focus of Discovery Leisure’s booth. Its tray had a Shrimp Roll with a filling lightly dressed with mayonnaise and herbs, and the attention-grabbing Texas Shrimp Straw Hats, which used ‘Chippy’ bags to hold nacho chips topped with shrimp, salsa, and sour cream. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Edsa Shangri-La Hotel
Squid was the chosen seafood of Edsa Shangri-La with squid stuffed with laing black rice, an interesting combination that worked very well. It also served the squid fried and seasoned with spicy sambal. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Enderun served cuttlefish with various sauces including a Vera Cruz sauce (a traditional Mexican fish sauce with tomatoes, peppers, olives, and capers to name some) and one with squid ink risotto, bacon and sundried tomato. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
The recently opened restaurant Grind wowed the crowd with its Tuna Lollipops which had sweetness from mango and apple, umami and salt from the miso and salmon roe, and a rich counterpoint from the foie gras to the tuna. A wonderfully balanced and flavorful bite. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Hyatt City of Dreams Manila
Hyatt mixed the classic and the modern on its table. Tuna Nicoise always pleases with its classic flavors, and Hyatt served its version will all the trimmings. The modern dish used sous vide in the mackerel. The fish was served atop an artichoke puree with beetroot chips, and a pickled fruit – resulting in a very earthy tasting and beautifully plated dish. Hyatt now uses 30% sustainable seafood in its kitchens, aiming to be 50% by next year. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Makati Shangri-La Hotel
The hotel offered ceviche using mackerel as the fish. Mackerel’s rich taste stood up well to the strong flavors of saffron and orange juice. For contrast, the ceviche was served with oysters in a smoked piquillo guacamole vinaigrette with pink peppercorn, lime caviar, and some basil oil. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Marco Polo Ortigas Manila
Marco Polo had one of the most eye-catching booths during the kick-off. Diners were served from a giant paellera filled with rice, seafood (shrimp, squid, mussels, clams), and meat. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Manila Marriott Hotel
As the host, Marriott’s contribution had the grandest entrance, as it was lowered down from the ceiling amid flashing lights and dramatic music. Shrimp cocktail using fresh and perfectly cooked Selva shrimp was served with a variety of sauces. Mason jars filled with assorted greens were also available on the table. Marriott is known for its Ocean’s Harvest in its buffet where seafood (whole tiger prawns, New Zealand mussels, white shell clams, curacha and slipper lobsters) can be cooked with at your preference. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
New World Hotels
While oysters with your choice of sauce was the crowd-drawer in the New World booth, the other offerings were more adventurous forays into eating the bivalve -- an alcohol-forward calamansi martini served with an oyster, and the sweet-umami rich shot of oyster with ponzu sauce and a raw quail egg. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Simple and decadent were words that described the Peninsula Manila’s offerings -- seared snapper served with a topping of aubergine was earthy and rich, while a toast topped with curacha and salted egg had richness at every bite. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Shangri-La at the Fort
Carlo Huerta offered a different take on tuna ceviche using Peruvian flavors, with corn nuts for texture. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor
Fish arroz caldo was an avant garde offering from Vask. Using purple rice with ginger notes, this was a favorite of many during the launch. Another Vask dish was a black rice cracker served with refreshing and light seafood and crab mousse. Vask only uses Filipino sustainable seafood in its restaurant. Jeeves de Veyra, Contributor