Mahatma Gandhi once said that ‘Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation’.
One such way that we meet this test in today’s global society is through our cooking, with different communities using many of the same trusted ingredients but arriving at such wonderfully diverse results.
This constant development and exporting of our national cuisines allows us to expand our culinary horizons, experiencing new flavour profiles and textures.
However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the availability of the high-quality products that support these cuisines is no accident.
Just look at global fishing companies, which provide a sustainable supply of seafood products to an array of different countries, from the eateries of Spain to the bars of Beijing.
Little wonder, therefore, that fish and seafood consumption per capita is higher in every continent than ten years ago – a testament to its taste, versality, and great value.
Speaking of Beijing, nowhere is the trend of diversifying demand for seafood clearer than in China.
Frozen fish like cod, haddock, and halibut, not at all common just ten years ago, is now popular in China, especially with kids, as a result of the availability and myriad health benefits of these species, alongside rising incomes.
Cod, for example, is an excellent low-fat, low-calorie source of protein and has been heralded for its anti-inflammatory benefits, while halibut is good for the heart, keeping blood pressure low, with haddock supporting thyroid health and our immune systems.
The emergence of this trio in the Chinese market is the result of the sophisticated global logistics networks and supply chains of fishing companies like Norebo,one of the leading Russian operators.
Indeed, while consumers in Asia and across the world deserve to enjoy their high quality frozen at sea fish, Norebo crews work hard for them to do so.
Once a Norebo vessel has made its catch, the crew fillets the fish and then freezes the fillet, all within just hours of it being caught.
Nothing is added and nothing is taken away, just as nature intended.
Yet while the skill behind these products is admirable, the dishes they play a part in are something to behold in their own right.
Braised Pacific chub mackerel, or Scomber japonicus, is one such Chinese classic and it’s the perfect dish if you’re entertaining a large group.
Once your piece of mackerel has been defrosted, fry it in oil for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Remove the fish from the pan, and then throw in ginger, garlic, spring onion and star anise.
Now add your chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, a dash of soy sauce, salt, and sugar, and keep stirring.
After adding the mackerel, cover your pan and cook for 1 hour on a medium heat, stirring at 10-minute intervals to stop it from sticking.
Garnish with spring onions and Voila!
While fishing companies like Norebo fillet your mackerel for you , they also sell products like capelin, which can be eaten whole, from head to tail.
To do so, place 5 or 6 capelins in a frying pan and then fry them until crispy.
Serve them up with a garlic-infused soy sauce, mixed with a splash of cooking sake, and you have the most delicious aperitif.
Despite Japanese food being all the rage in the West, sardines in a kabayaki sauce is one delicacy that does not yet seem to be on our culinary radar.
Luckily enough, it couldn’t be simpler to prepare.
Coat your defrosted sardines with flour and stir fry, before mixing in water, soy sauce, cooking sake, mirin, and sugar.
Allow the sardines to soak up the sauce for a few minutes, going soft and sweet in the process.
Serve with white rice and perhaps some grilled aubergine to balance the sweetness of the kabayaki.
With recipes like this, and the reliability of supply provided by the global fishing industry, it’s little wonder that the consumption of pelagic fish like sardines and mackerel, alongside Western staples like cod and haddock, is on the rise in Asia.
Just as importantly, the different interpretations of the same superb products ensures that communities from across the world can enjoy the fruits of different cuisines, a truly beautiful thing.
So have a glass of white wine with your sardine kabayaki in London or knock back a beer with a serving of capelin in Shanghai – you’re in good hands with either.