Sarasota's Trash Fish Dinner: Sustainability and delicious fish served up at one event

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- What are trash fish? Trash fish, or "rough fish" are terms used by state agencies and anglers to describe fish that are less generally desirable in a particular region because the fish either have a lot of bones, or for cultural and/or traditional reasons are not generally consumed.

A great example of a trash fish is the common carp. Carp are considered trash fish here in the United States but they are a premier game fish in Europe and the most far-reaching food fish across Asia. In fact, carp are the most important freshwater fish species for food and traditional Chinese medicine in China. One man's "trash" is truly another man's "treasure.”

Tasty trash fish in Florida include gar, sea robin, skate, blowfish and more. Even the lionfish is edible if caught in the right waters.

What's really important about trash fish is what they bring to the table both figuratively and literally: sustainability in our food sources. These fish aren't just by-catch anymore, they're delicious additions to the menu!

A local dinner event featuring sustainable seafood organized by Steve Phelps, chef owner of Indigenous, and Tracy Walsh Freeman, editor and publisher of Edible Sarasota, benefits the nonprofit organization Chefs Collaborative and their mission to promote more sustainable seafood consumption. It takes place at Louie’s Modern in Sarasota on Monday, July 21st and it will focus on undervalued species of fish all the while delivering on the mantra of “an evening of the best seafood you’ve never tried.”

Participating chefs include Keith Dougherty and James Baselici of Louie’s Modern, Darwin Santa Maria of Darwin's on 4th, Randall Roulette of Owen’s Fish Camp, Steve Phelps of Indigenous, and Christian Hershman of State Street Eating House + Cocktails.

Mote Marine and Gulf Wild promise to illuminate attendees about the misunderstandings of trash fish and how consumers can help the environment, sustainability and local fishing communities.

The event is sold out which speaks to our area's interest in sustainability and awareness. If you'd like to read more about our local fish and how to prepare and enjoy them, pick up a copy of Edible Sarasota from a farmer's market, a Whole Foods store, or other locations around the Suncoast. Alternately, you can subscribe or read the online e-edition of Edible Sarasota here.

Finally, here's a video from the event: