10. Plenty more fish in the sea?

We feast in midwinter style, chat about our new partnership with LegaSea, meet a new online grocer, and cook up a high-octane fish head soup courtesy of Kai Ika.

10. Plenty more fish in the sea?

Kia ora Freedom whānau!

When we talk about food production our minds usually wander to what is happening on the land: meat, dairy, eggs, crops… all industries that make Aotearoa New Zealand a land of milk and honey.

But we’re also a group of islands, surrounded by deep blue oceans; we’re fortunate to have access to a preposterously beautiful coastline and a wide range of delicious kai moana.

I spent part of my childhood living in the Marlborough Sounds – on Arapaoa Island – the island where the great navigator Kupe is said to have killed the octopus Te Wheke-a-Muturangi, and where Captain James Cook stood on a hill and dispelled the notion of a great Southern continent, realising that the Strait was a passage, not an inlet. In my brief tour as an Arapaoa resident, thirty-odd years ago, Queen Charlotte Sound was home to a legion of fascinating sea creatures. Blue cod/rāwaru was my favourite – the distinctive bluish-green shimmer as they were hauled to the surface, their big lips and perplexed faces a welcome reward for the little girl who felt so powerful winding in her own reel. It’s said that the real joy of fishing is the stillness between bites – anticipation, reflection and a sense of belonging with the ocean. But in recent years it’s become clear that the stillness between bites has become too long – we’ve taken too much.

We don’t think anyone set out to swindle future generations out of an abundant marine life. But these things can happen when we stop paying attention, or we start sending the wrong messages. In food, those messages are too often cheaper and more. The problem with asking for more food for less money is that the true cost gets muddled. The inshore zone used to act as a highly productive nursery ward for a wide range of ocean species. But decades of faulty thinking on how much we can sustainably take, compounded by practices that interfere with the seafloor, have depleted the critical resources that allow the ocean to replenish itself. Now it’s time to start working to protect and reinstate this incredible resource for future generations.

This week, Freedom Farms committed to becoming a LegaSea partner, to back that organisation’s work to build a healthy coastal environment with abundant fish life that supports low impact commercial, customary and recreational fishing. Backing LegaSea feels like a natural fit for Freedom Farms – after more than a decade supporting Freedom farming systems that are kinder for farm animals and the environment, it's something we feel really strongly about. Our commitment to LegaSea will continue alongside our Christmas commitment to The Aunties, to ensure that families recovering from domestic violence get to experience a really special Christmas meal.

Below you can learn more about the Kai Ika Project – an initiative between LegaSea, the Outboard Boating Club of Auckland, Westhaven, and Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae to collect and redistribute previously discarded fish parts to appreciative community groups all over Auckland.

If you’d like to support LegaSea, we’d invite you to head over to their website… there are loads of ways you can get involved.

Enjoy the rest of this blustery cold week!

Hilary Pearson, General Manager

P.S. I had a lovely conversation yesterday with a caller asking what happens to the pigs when it gets cold… all the pig farmers are well equipped to deal with wintery blasts like we’ve been experiencing this week – the pigs are well cared for with plenty of deep straw to bed down in, shelter out of the wind and rain, and they are adept at sharing body heat in big snuggle piles. Cute! I really appreciate talking to people who care about this stuff… thanks for taking the time to ask!

If you’re not familiar with Freedom Farms… we’re a 100% NZ-owned company that set out over a decade ago to bring you bacon farmed the Freedom way… from NZ farmers who care about the same things we do. Simply put, that is farming that is kinder for farm animals, and takes it easy on the environment. When you buy our bacon, eggs, pork, sausages and ham you are supporting a wonderful little group of NZ farmers… and for that we’re really really grateful!

Mid-Winter Feasts

Midwinter celebrations call for a centrepiece for the table, and we’re all about keeping stress levels down with a nice big cut of pork that can cook away while you tick off the rest of your to-do list. Here are a few ideas to suit an oven, slow-cooker, or even the barbecue, as fans know doing your big cook outdoors frees up the kitchen for everything else!

Classic roast pork loin

Nothing says class like a perfectly roasted pork loin, topped with an even duvet of crisp crackling. One of the beauties of loin roast is you can either feed a crowd and not have to worry about leftovers… or feed just a couple and know that cold, sliced loin awaits you for lunch the next day – its concentrated flavour and still-tender texture the perfect sandwich filler. We like to start by turning the roast skin-side down and making half a dozen knicks in the meat into which we insert half cloves of garlic, strips of bay leaf, or sprigs of rosemary. Make sure the skin is well-salted, and lay down a host of chopped root vegetables and fennel bulb in your roasting dish for your loin to sit atop as it roasts. Add a small splash of of apple cider to the bottom of the dish halfway through cooking, to keep the meat extra juicy and when you turn up the heat to give the crackling a blast, the bottom bits should go golden and sticky.

Slow cooker pork belly

Yes, you can have the best of both worlds! Succulent belly flesh from hands-off time in the slow cooker, plus the requisite crackling from a quick oven finish. Sub your slab of belly all over with chosen seasoning and score the fat in lines. Pop in the slow cooker and add chicken or vegetable stock (and any flavourings or aromats like soy, garlic, ginger, fennel, five spice, etc). Cook on low setting for 3.5-5 hours, then transfer the belly to a 220℃ oven and bake for around 25 mins until you’ve got the requisite crackling. The juices left in the slow cooker can be reduced to a concentrated jus or made into gravy.

Sign Us Up.

We’re excited about the launch of Supie – a locally owned, membership-based online grocery store which aims to make grocery shopping more transparent, affordable, and sustainable. Waste was a catalyst for Sarah Balle founding the business. Balle was raised on a veggie farm, witness to vegetables being dumped if they didn’t meet strict cosmetic standards.

“I was shocked to discover the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that are being thrown out because of the traditional supermarket model”, says Balle, “Someone had to do something about it, and that someone was me.”

Freedom Farms is proud to partner with Supie, alongside a plethora of other Kiwi brands we love and respect...brands that, like Supie, hold quality, transparency, and sustainability in high regard.

Use the voucher code FREEDOM to get $10 off at the checkout when you sign up to Supie and make their first order. This code is valid until July 31st and can be used once per person signing up.

Share More, Waste Less

We know there really aren’t plenty more fish in the ocean. Appreciating and looking after the kai moana we do have access to is increasingly salient. Taking less from the ocean, but getting more out of it, is the key kaupapa at the Kai Ika Project. Established five years ago through a partnership between LegaSea, the Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae, and the Outboard Boating Club of Auckland, Kai Ika fires on multiple engines. It provides a valuable service to fishers – expertly filleting their catch for a nominal fee from its trailers at Westhaven’s Z Pier, and Auckland Outboard Boating Club in Orakei. It carefully packs up the fish frames left over after filleting and distributes them to communities in need – there’s so much good eating to be had in these. Through this dual purpose, and an overarching purpose of guardianship of our marine life, Kai Ika is also connecting communities.

Kai Ika Project Coordinator Dallas Abel has shared with us their recipe for fish head soup – we’ve halved the quantities to make it more practical – but by all means go ahead and double this to use up a big load of offcuts, and share around!

“We strive to keep our recipe as simple as possible”, explains Abel. “It’s important not to ‘drown’ the fish parts with too much water. Following a solid boil up and heavy mashing, we strain off our high-octane fish stock. This is gold, and keeps well in the fridge or for ages in the freezer.”

RECIPE: Kai Ika Fish Head Soup

10kg fish parts left over after filleting
2.5 L water, plus extra to top up
500g chopped onion
225g butter
1 cups plain flour
1 cup milk
Big bunch parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put the fish parts into a large stock pot, add the water and onion and bring to the boil. Turn down heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes. Take off the heat and vigorously bash the content of the pot with the end of a rolling pin or clean piece of wood. Strain out the solids, pouring stock into a large pot. Clean the original pot and place it over a low heat. Melt the butter, and stir in the flour to make a roux – cook this long and slow, until, as Abel says, “You can smell the biscuit”. Once it’s almost browning, whisk in the milk to make a thick sauce, then stir in the stock, along with the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes then you’re done.

This fish head soup will feed a crowd. It can be enjoyed on its own, used as a foundation for chowder, pies, pastas and rice dishes, or portioned to share round with whānau and friends.

Learn more about the incredible work being done by the Kai Ika Project in the video below:

Five Good Things

1/ There’s still a week of Matariki festival to go, and we’re thrilled to see so many food-focused events up and down the country to celebrate the occasion. Eat New Zealand’s handy calendar of events includes this gem we’d love to scoot down to the capital city for: A Modern Matariki Hāngī with Joe McLeod, held in the Begonia House at Wellington’s Botanic Gardens – an afternoon of learning about traditional Māori cuisine, culminating in a hāngi feast featuring McLeod’s modern twists.

2/ A heartwarming tale of two prisoners inspired by an episode of River Cottagewhere Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall makes yoghurt from scratch… We love that these guys in turn shared their knowledge and dedication to the craft.

3/ Not that we take everything we read for gospel… but we’re a little thrilled to hear that the latest research shows drinking coffee can help reduce the risk of some diseases and cancers… we’ll raise a cup of Joe to that!

4/ We love the story behind Chatham Island Food Co – Delwyn and Gigi Tuanui live on the remote island and Delwyn – a fifth generation islander – grew up seeing island produce going to waste as the cost and practicalities of getting it to the mainland were all too challenging. After Covid put a halt to their blossoming supply to the hospitality sector, the couple took the plunge and created an online shop to get their kaimoana direct to customers. And folks (including us) are loving their ultra fresh paua, minced paua, crayfish, and blue cod that’s been blast frozen – all sourced with an above-and-beyond approach to sustainability.

5/ Cashews would be up there in the fave nut stakes here at FF HQ. But we’re sparing a thought for cashew growers in Guinea-Bissau, who are battling an increasingly tough climate getting their product to market, and fetching a price that makes it worthwhile.

That’s all for this week! Please reply to get in touch and share with any other food lovers who might like to subscribe too. See you next Month 👋