Fish And Chips On A Stick

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By Cooking Panda

Tags: chips, fish, Stick
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Buying Sushi In LA? You Might Not Get The Fish You Want

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By Cooking Panda

According to a new study, sushi in Los Angeles is being mislabeled on a staggeringly high basis. If you’re in the market for sushi in LA, this news is for you.

The UCLA has published a press release alerting the public to this shocking new issue. Researchers at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University conducted a study in which they tested the DNA of the sushi ordered in 26 different LA restaurants from the years 2012 to 2015. What they found was a bit disturbing. Forty-seven percent of that sushi ended up being mislabeled. Most of the fish that were mislabeled were supposed to be halibut or red snapper, so buyers beware. For the most part, the tuna was labeled correctly, and the salmon was only mislabeled one in 10 times.

According to Southern California news source 89.3 KPCC, Paul Barber, a senior author of the study, said that the apparent fraud undermines environmental regulations on overfishing. That means, not only do consumers not always know what they’re eating (a health risk in itself), but threatened fish populations are also affected.

“Half of what we’re buying isn’t what we think it is,” Barber said. “Fish fraud could be accidental, but I suspect that in some cases the mislabeling is very much intentional. […] I suspected we would find some mislabeling, but I didn’t think it would be as high as we found in some species.”

I guess if you’re having a real hankering for fish in LA, at least choose tuna or salmon to fulfill that urge. If you choose halibut or red snapper, you’re probably going to be served something different. The sad part is that it could even be something endangered. The study showed that although tuna buyers were getting tuna, they weren’t always getting the right kind of tuna. The researchers said that out of nine orders of yellowfin tuna, seven would be a different type, usually bigeye, which is a vulnerable and overexploited species.

Likewise, those who ordered halibut were often served flounder, and about four in 10 of those flounder were overfished or near threatened. Clearly, there is a need for more oversight in this market. I’m only glad that these researchers have brought this to light.

Sources: UCLA Press Release, 89.3 KPCC / Photo Credit: Sushi Shop/Instagram

Tags: fish, Food Labeling, LA, sushi
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Young Fish Are ‘Stuffing Themselves’ With Their Food Addiction: Plastic

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By Cooking Panda

There is a system in our brains called the reward system; essentially, the system is designed to “reward” us with pleasurable feelings when we make a choice that encourages our survival.

The brain releases feel-good chemicals into our body, thus propelling us to continue whatever behavior triggered that response. 

In theory, the system works. However, according to Authority Nutrition, unhealthy food items often can register in the brain as a more powerful reward than natural foods; that’s how food addiction works.

Now, a study from researchers at Sweden’s Uppsala University reports in Science that just like teenagers are inclined to become addicted to eating unhealthy fast foods, young fish become hooked on eating plastic in the seas, due to its high concentrations of polystyrene.

Researchers exposed perch larvae to different concentrations of polystyrene in water tanks; and according to Dr. Oona Lonnstedt, the fish hatched in highly contaminated water were “smaller, slower, and more stupid.”

The study showed that the junk-eating fish died at twice the rate of the others when they were exposed to predators; but perhaps what’s most surprising of all is that the fish demonstrated a preference for the plastic.

“They all had access to zooplankton and yet they decided to just eat plastic in that treatment. It seems to be a chemical or physical cue that the plastic has, that triggers a feeding response in fish,” said Dr. Lonnstedt, according to BBC News.

“They are basically fooled into thinking it’s a high-energy resource that they need to eat a lot of. I think of it as unhealthy fast food for teenagers, and they are just stuffing themselves.”

In the study, the researchers have linked the declines of species like perch and pike to increased deaths at the juvenile stage. The argument is that plastics are impacting young fish across species, which has the potential to have “profound” negative effects on ecosystems.

“The observations we have so far are about the amount of plastic we find in the seas, and the amount we find within animals,” Dr. Erik Van Sebille of Imperial College London said to BBC.

“Your intuition would say it is not good for a fish to eat plastic, but scientifically you want to prove it, you want to be able to show what the impacts plastic are having, and that has been very hard to determine until now, and that’s why this is such a big paper.”

Huffington Post reports that President Barack Obama has signed a bill aimed at banning the potentially disastrous microplastics from rinse-off cosmetics by 2017; however, the majority of microplastics in the environment come from larger pieces of plastic breaking down, according to microplastic researcher Sherri Mason.

“I think the big movement is in finding plastics that can come from renewable resources,” Mason explained, saying that our goal should be to work toward materials that are “truly biodegradable.”

Sources: Reward System/Wikipedia, Authority Nutrition, Science, BBC, Huffington Post, TakePart / Photo credit: Rare Delights

Tags: addiction, fish, junk food, plastic
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We Try: Ocean-Themed Snacks

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By Cooking Panda

This past Sunday, May 15, the Brooklyn-based performance venue House of Yes converted itself into a plush, oceanic sanctuary in celebration of the 6th Annual Mermaid Lagoon Benefit.

After costuming ourselves in our most lavish nautical attire, we headed over to the benefit in order to help support two deserving charities (all proceeds from the night went to the New York-based Billion Oyster Project and the Orca Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping save a 20-foot-long orca named Lolita) and indulge in the lavish array of shellfish for sale.

As we slurped down our oysters, our hosts let us in on some facts about the sea-snack:

  1. Oysters are sustainable food products
  2. They can be cultivated as a renewable resource
  3. They taste really good when spritzed with a little bit of lemon
  4. They are aphrodisiacs

Perhaps we were influenced by that last point, because we left the benefit completely enamored with the sea — and determined to embark upon an ocean-themed taste test.

We adhered to two rules and two rules only: the snacks had to either physically resemble creatures/items from the sea, or actually be creatures/items from the sea. Additionally, while many of these snacks boast a wide variety of flavor options, we veered clear of temptation and kept it simple.

Swedish Fish

There is only one thing we know about these firm, chewy gummies and that is that they are delicious; everything else about them is elusive and confusing.

For starters, they were actually developed specifically for US and Canadian markets — not, as the name might suggest, Swedish ones. Secondly, the closest we can get to describing their flavor profile is “red.” They’re not quite strawberry; not quite cherry; neither raspberry or fruit punch quite hits the mark, either.

If you, like us, thought you could just perform a quick google search and solve the mystery, think again: The manufacturers have never confirmed or denied any flavor claims, stating simply that the snack “tastes like fruit, not like fish.” 

Taiyaki

When I told my friend that I was on the hunt for fish-shaped snacks, she immediately swept me away to the East Village to try Taiyaki, a warm and chewy Japanese street-pastry made from pancake batter.

Traditionally, Taiyaki (which literally translates to “baked/grilled sea bream”) is filled with azuki sweet red bean paste, which is what I ordered, but the shop we went to also offered it stuffed with custard or a nutella-banana concoction.

These are dense, filling and satisfying (I am what I am: somebody who apparently gains mass fulfillment from biting into the face of a batter-baked fishy), but despite the generous dollop of red bean filling, my mouth was extremely dry after a few bites.

Goldfish

Apparently, the original goldfish is actually the “Non-Cheesy and Sad Bland Cracker” flavor, so we opted to go for the classic Cheddar version instead, because we like ourselves.

And the verdict is in: we also like goldfish. They’re crunchy and portable, they’re not trying too hard (though we’re not sure we can say the same about some of the other flavors we spotted on the shelves — “Xplosive Pizza”? “Chocolate Mint + Pretzel Mix”?), and their adorable nutritional profile literally reads: “MADE WITH SMILES AND…” (insert long list of unpronounceable ingredients here).

Guylian chocolate

These shell-shaped chocolates are a marbled mixture of white and milk chocolate. For whatever reason, we were all expecting them to have a candy-like (and firm) outer coat. However, the entire chocolate is creamy and soft, giving way to a praline center.

Several of us detected a subtle nuttiness — hazelnut? — but the overall effect is of a velvety, creamy, and ultra-sweet Belgian chocolate.

Bonus: The folks behind Guylian are also sponsors of Project Seahorse, which is a marine conservation organization that aims to protect seahorses.

Wild King Salmon Jerky

The first unexpected feature of this jerky was that we could see with relative certainty where the scales used to be on the salmon chunks before it got jerky-fied; the second was how relentlessly oily it was.

Sound appetizing? Didn’t think so.

Our final verdict boils down to this: we all like salmon. Historically, we have all enjoyed a strip or two of jerky. Personally, I have an affinity for fish and seafood in most of its edible forms. But we were all in agreement that this particular effort was a failure for Trader Joe’s.

Nori Maki Arare

The crunch!

One thing you cannot do is sneak this snack into a theater without earning the disdain from everybody around you; if you thought nuts or chips were loud, these Japanese, soy sauce-flavored puffed rice snacks wrapped in seaweed are on another level.

They’re low calorie, low cholesterol, and deliver a strong but sort of addicting punch of umami. I imagine these would pair especially well with a beer or some sake.  

Dried Squid

This one ended up being a pleasant surprise. The squid has the texture and feel of a stringy jerky, and while it smells super pungent, one of our taste-testers described the flavor as, “Just like the ocean, but nobody’s secretly peeing in the bag of squid right next to you.”

By that I think (I hope) she means it tasted savory and, upon chewing, also subtly sweet.

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Sources:  Billion Oyster ProjectOrca Network, Mermaid Lagoon Ocean Benefit/Facebook, Swedish Fish, Guylian / Photo credit: Asian Food Grocer, swedishfish/Instagram, kingtaiyakivietnam/Instagram, goldfishsmiles/Instagram, guylianchocolate/Instagram, tastysnacking/Instagram, Amazon, Ali Boin

Tags: fish, ocean, oysters, party theme
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