As most chefs keep promoting overfished delicacies, Barton Seaver takes a different approach—and a satisfying one
With the notable exception of Rick Moonen's Fish Without a Doubt, most of the seafood cookbooks around our house are as quaintly dated as the 1950s Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook passed down from my mother. In most cases, the recipes themselves are not terribly outmoded. But many of the species they recommend have been overfished to the point where they are no longer found in markets (orange roughy) or are so endangered or environmentally harmful that they should not be eaten by anyone who cares about ocean ecology (tuna, Chilean sea bass, farmed salmon).
It was a welcome relief, then, to crack the covers of Barton Seaver's For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking. Seaver, a chef, won acclaim for his work at Hook, a Washington, D.C., restaurant. He is currently a National Geographic Fellow. For Cod and Country is a user's manual for any seafood lover who wants to eat sustainably—and very well.
Seaver's book vibrates with personality, practical advice, photographs (both evocative and how-to), and stovetop wisdom: never be shy about adding butter, but go easy on the black pepper. With the help of step-by-step photographs, he demonstrates seafood-savvy techniques, everything from how to fillet a bass to how to open an oyster without severing one of your arteries. He also provides a list of substitutions for overexploited species: Use Pacific cod in place of Atlantic cod; sablefish instead of Chilean sea bass; squid instead of octopus.