The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

A Chat with Be Happy and 
Smoked Sea Salt Baked Sardines

Today we have a special guest from the Blue Ocean Institute Kate McLaughlin.
Kate will be telling us a bit about the program "Be Happy" and
some discussion on seafood sustainability. She will also be talking
about one of her favorite catches, farmed mussels :)

I chose to do a recipe on another sustainable seafood catch,
the sardine. And according to the Blue Ocean Institute, these little
guys get a "Best Choice" rating.

Sardines are a seriously under used sustainable fish source. These highly nutritious
 little guys are usually associated with canned fish, but they are available fresh or
 frozen. Although they do not freeze as well as many other types of fish and
have high oil content,  lending to be a healthy choice in the fish world, but also
 cause them to spoil quickly. So it is best to purchase your sardines on
 the day you plan to prepare them for best results. 

                                     Be happy with your Seafood Choices!
     By: Kate McLaughlin, Blue Ocean Institute

This year, as you look for new ways to be more eco-friendly,
 why not resolve to be happy?

Just as you’re thoughtful about other environmentally-responsible choices you make
(like recycling, or buying farmers market vegetables), you can be thoughtful about
 your seafood choices and be happy with the results! When fish are caught or
 farmed in ways that protect the ocean, that’s something all
seafood lovers can be happy about.

For me, being happy is sitting down to a plate of farmed mussels
these guys are ocean-friendly rockstars.

First off, did you know that half of the seafood produced globally comes from
 fish farms? That’s a lot of seafood! Next time you’re at the store, look for signs
 on the seafood that note whether it’s farmed or wild, and you’ll see there’s more
 farmed seafood out there than you might have guessed.

Mussels are an ocean-friendly farmed seafood because you don’t have to feed them—they naturally filter their food from the surrounding water. They can filter 10-15 gallons of water a day—that means they’re eating a lot of microscopic plankton. It also means we don’t have to go fishing to catch fish to feed to them (as is the case with some farm-raised seafood, like Atlantic salmon).

Mussels are delicious and nutritious on top of all their ocean-friendly qualities (and kids love picking them out of their shells at meal time).

Farmed mussels are just one kind of ocean-friendly seafood that you and your family can be happy about. Learn about other ocean-friendly seafood, at

Eight conservation organizations in the U.S. and Canada have teamed up to bring you fun and engaging seafood info. There are family- (and ocean!) friendly recipes, trivia to help you get to know ocean-friendly options, and you and your kids can sign a pledge to support ocean-friendly seafood or post a pic of your best fish face showing your support for the ocean.

About the author: Kate McLaughlin is the Seafood Program Director with the
 Blue Ocean Institute. Kate has studied fish for more than 10 years—she’s taken kids
 fishing in the urban parks of NYC, and tracked the salmon on the mighty Columbia
 River in Washington State. She’s studied river herring in the coastal rivers of
 Massachusetts, trout in the mountain streams of Montana, and manta rays along
 the jagged shore of Hawai’i. Kate earned a Master’s Degree in Fisheries from
 Humboldt State University in northern California. In her work with Blue Ocean Institute,
Kate works with seafood lovers, scientists, chefs, and nutrition professionals to
 communicate the science of seafood.

Thank you Kate for this informative and fun guest post.
Everyone please stop over and "Like" the "Be Happy Page"
on Facebook and join in on the fun :)

What you will need:
3 cups black sea salt, finely ground
3 cups smoked sea salt, finely ground
3 pounds fresh sardines (about 12 large)
12 small sprigs fresh thyme
12 leaves lemon verbena
12 large sage leaves, halved lengthwise
1 lemon

Let’s get cooking:
Make sure your sardines are cleaned with heads and tails left intact, 
your fish monger will do this for you. 

Combine both salts and fully incorporate On a large stick resistant baking
 sheet, evenly layer half of the salt in a large enough area to support all of your
 sardines. Pat the salt down to make a base for the sardines. 

Rinse sardines thoroughly under cold running water and lay onto a cutting board or
 dish. Gently pat dry with a paper towel leaving them just damp.

Stuff each sardine with herbs and lemon slices, then layer on top of salt bed 
about 1-2 inches apart. Take remaining salt and place evenly over tops of the 
sardines. Pat the salt down to create a tight mound.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees (f) for 15 minutes or until
 internal temperature reaches 140 degrees (f)

To serve or eat, remove salt shield by tapping on the surface until it cracks 
and gently lift away salt. Make sure to remove any bones prior to eating.
Serves 4

Alisha~Magic of Spice

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