Mackerel. Glad it's sustainable because it sure does taste good.

At Sen Sushi (814 S Oak Park Ave, Oak Park), we had asked the server about sustainable fish selections, and she looked very uncertain, but we’d brought with us the Shedd’s Right Bite card, supplemented with the Central US Guide from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, as well as the Blue Ocean Institute sushi wallet card. We limited our selections to only sustainable seafood, just to see how hard that would be. It wasn’t hard at all.

We had squid (which, like jellyfish, will probably be one of the last creatures to be overfished) and tilapia (US Farmed; not bad, but kind of watery). We really dug the mackerel:  lushly funky, full of flavor, really good; I ordered it again for dessert.

The Wife likes uni, which I find revolting. She also likes lobster tomalley, so you get the picture. She oohed and aahed as she wolfed it down  the pillow of yellow mush. I watched.

You know, if you can’t find enough sustainable seafood on a sushi menu, there’s always tofu, and a spicy little app of fried curd was pretty good and will not lead to the devastation of our oceans.

I’m not swearing that I will eat sustainable seafood exclusively from now on, but like mass meat, if I can avoid eating endangered fish, why not?  There are lots of alternatives, and they’re not necessarily more expensive (mackerel was one of the least expensive sushi options on the menu).

Order mackerel instead of the nearly extinct blue fin tuna is a small step, and maybe it’s just a bourgeois fantasy that such a miniscule effort would make a difference, but if we refuse to eat fish that’s disappearing, if we ask our chefs if what they’re serving us is an endangered species, it’s a small step, but small things are really all you and me can do, tiny creatures that we are in a world that’s mostly water.


Anyway, I think the sustainable seafood “movement” is a very good thing. This isn’t about the nanny state dictating diets, or preachy pains-in-the-butt telling you about what you should or shouldn’t eat; it’s about making the everyday decisions in buying and eating habits that may have repercussive, rippling influences upon the chefs and fishmongers whose also relatively small actions can, collectively, have massive consequences for our oceans and the delicious, irreplaceable food sources they support. 

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David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...