Aaron Black of PB Catch on Sustainability, Bycatch, and the Best Way to Cook Fish
Last week we decided to dive head first into South Florida's seafood scene with a list of the ten best seafood restaurants in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
Obviously, one restaurant picked up the number one spot, "the island hotspot" PB Catch.
To find out more about the award-winning concept, we decided to sit down with chef Aaron Black to discuss what goes into a sustainable seafood restaurant, issues pertaining to fish populations, and the best way to cook pescatarian's favorite dish.
Clean Plate Charlie: The menu at PB Catch is built off of sustainable seafood. Was that always a concern of yours?
Black: I think all chefs are interested, but the issue has come to the forefront recently. When fish prices rise and populations become scarce you have to pay attention. I think the biggest problem now is bycatch. Everyone wants to cook the noble fishes, like red snapper, but there are so many different fishes that are delicious, but no one knows about them; eating bycatch take pressure off of noble fish populations.
There are a lot of species of bycatch. Which ones are you talking about?
Trigger fish, wreck fish, porgies; there are 20 kinds of porgies that are fantastic -- the chocolate chip is best. I use Gary's and Cods and Capers as provisioners; both of them are now looking for by-catch now, because they know I'll but it. It's all about demand and raising awareness of guests.
To raise awareness of lion fish and the dangers they pose to the Atlantic eco-system PB Catch installed a fish tank with them. Have you ever cooked lion fish in the restaurant?
I have cooked lion fish before, but it's still really expensive. Divers have to go down with protective gear and cart around bags filled with the poisonous fish; it's selling for around $22 per pound, and the size variation is difficult in the restaurant. I think that'll change at some point. People will figure out how to trap them, which will make it easier.
What's your favorite fish?
Black Sable. It's not sustainable; so, we don't serve it.
What's you preferred method for cooking fish?
I like sautéing. It seals in the moisture better and creates the awesome crust on the outside; it's the delicate texture fish need and you can deglaze the pan afterward. It's all about concentration of flavor. We use anything and everything in our dishes.
What differentiates PB Catch from other seafood restaurants?
This menu is technique based; we're trying to have our own voice, to not be like anyone else. The menu is inspired by subtlety: aromatics, citrus, and simple preparation. We change things up constantly. We always say, "If you come and hear a special you like, you should order the special, because we really don't repeat them."
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