Thick white fish fillets cooked in a naturally sweet sauce of red bell peppers, tomato and leek. Easy to prepare and quick to cook. Today we are featuring Patagonian fish with leek and red bell pepper sauce.
Traveling around the southern part of Patagonia, towns are remote, on the coast and long distances apart. Roads are almost non-existent, meaning you undertake transport by sea or river. Naturally, fishing is a major industry here in Patagonia (both in Chile and Argentina).
Two of the more popular seafood options are scallops and Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass). Chilean sea bass, has become popular in many parts of the world. Most of the world’s Chilean sea bass hails from the Southern oceans. It is a large, deep water, meaty fish. It may not be the most attractive fish going around but it is very white, sweet and fleshy, with no strong taste. It is a good fish to use to feed those tasting fish for the first time or who may be skeptical about eating fish.
The Patagonian toothfish is also known as Bacalao and Bacalao de profundidad in Chile, Merluza negra in Argentina and Uruguay, Légine australe in France and Marlonga-negra in Portugal.
Patagonian Toothfish Wars in the Southern Ocean
The first time I recall hearing the name “Patagonian Toothfish” was maybe back in 2002. There was an infamous chase lasting 21 days in the Southern Ocean between an Australian Customs vessel and a fishing boat suspected of illegally fishing for Patagonian Toothfish. Illegal in terms of it being in an area it should not have been in. There were updates on this chase every day. Eventually the boat was caught. Unfortunately the legal action failed because although the boat did indeed hold Patagonian Toothfish, it could not be proven the fish actually came from Australian-controlled waters. In other words it failed because of a technicality.
Unfortunately, the practice of illegally catching Patagonian Toothfish continues to this day. It is not just that fishing boats are in the wrong places (other country’s fishing grounds) but also the methods used to catch the fish. You can read more about the issue here from the Sea Shepherd. Some navies are now co-operating with each other to help patrol the area but unfortunately the Southern Ocean is a huge area.
It does appear that there has been some success in reducing the amount of illegal fishing in the area. Here is another article on the same subject. There is definitely more co-operation between countries to stamp out the practice and maybe it is starting to have a positive impact. In some countries Chilean Sea Bass is now marked with a blue eco-label (issued by the Marine Stewardship Council) if the fish has been caught using sustainable practices.
In Patagonia, we were lucky enough to eat Chilean sea bass a number of times. Fishing is a major industry in Patagonia. All of the coastal towns have a large fishing presence. It is a tough industry, with long hours and days spent away from home in sometimes treacherously, windy and very cold conditions.
So when buying Chilean Sea Bass look for the Marine Stewardship Council certification or satisfy yourself by talking with the fishmonger that the fish has been sustainably caught. If you are uncomfortable about using Chilean Sea Bass, use rockling or some other fleshy, white fish fillets.
So without further ado here is the recipe for Patagonian fish with leek and red bell pepper sauce.
Patagonian Fish with Leek and Red Bell Pepper Sauce Recipe