Yep, we literally got hooked right in with colourful fish cutouts in the storefront window. Walking around on a Saturday afternoon in Leslieville looking for a coffee shop, we didn't expect to randomly find one of Toronto's newest fish store.
"Wow, this is an awesome place, how long have you been here?".... "Actually we just opened yesterday!". Hooked Inc opened on March 11th. They call themselves the knowledgeable fish store, and pride their efforts in finding sustainable and ethnical methods of providing fresh fish to Torontonians. We met Kristin, one of the owners, who explained to us their process of sourcing fish across Canada directly from small fishing boats. Supporting small businesses not only support local industries but also ensure that the fish are caught responsibly. Large scale mass fishing has a high impact on our environment as often they will trawl the sea beds with giant netting that destroy the ecology and captures more wildlife than they are fishing for.
The owners are both professional chefs with experience in Toronto's food industry and restaurants. They are also currently working on a cooking demonstration counter at the back of the store where they will host culinary workshops offering instructions in selecting, handling and cooking seafood. You will also find cookware, various tools, cookbooks and prepared foods that compliment your seafood adventures.
a cute chalkboard displays the fish available and where the fish was caught.
the space has an east coast feel, and at the back they have a counter for future culinary classes
there were shrimp, oysters, mussels from all over Canada as well as local ontario lake fish
also larger wild fish caught in local seas, including Chinook salmon, Sablefish and B.C. Halibut.
Everything looked very fresh and reasonably priced consider the extra steps they've taken to by pass a mass supply chain. Unfortunately that weekend we already had dinner plans, but returned the following week to buy some B.C. Halibut ($24/lb) and B.C. spotted prawns ($20/lb). We cooked the following meal at a cost of about $10 a portion, for 4 portions. Higher than we would budget for our average meal, but this is no average meal and we'd spend easily a minimum of $30 if we were to have this in a restaurant. We quickly referenced this simple recipe for a simple broth for our seafood through a quick search on my iphone while buying groceries. I also noticed that Loblaw's had Halibut too (although from Alaska), but it definitely didn't look as fresh, possibly once frozen, slightly discoloured, and it was still $21/lb. I would much rather spend the extra $3/lb knowing where my fish came from and how it was caught.
On the left is our fresh halibut from Hooked, and on the chopping board we have two shallots, one large carrot, parsley, ground coriander and a lemon.
We created the simple broth with the shallots, carrots, and added a carton of chicken broth, a cup of white wine, lemon zest, half a lemon's juice and a knob of butter to finish. The halibut was seared on both sides, seasoned with the ground coriander, salt and pepper. The Prawns were quickly sautéed with a little bit of butter and a splash of broth. Since May wanted rice and I wanted beans, we decided to combine them together with some chopped parsley which sat nicely at the bottom of our dish soaking up the flavours of our broth.
And there you have it! everything kinda collapsed when we pour the broth over the dish, but everything tasted amazing, the flavour and texture of the fish stood out on its own, and the prawns were extremly sweet.
Although we don't cook like this that often, there is no reason why we shouldn't. It was a very special meal that was affordable and simple to make; we only had to wait for the broth to simmer for 20mins, otherwise everything else was quick. The nice thing about cooking seafood is that there usually is very little prep work involved. So there should be no excuses, go visit Hooked and have some seafood tonight!
For more information on the great things they are doing over at Hooked Inc., check out the Globe and Mail's article. To find out some of the harsh realities of the fishing industry I recommend watching The End of the Line. If you're wondering how sustainable the fish on your dinner table is, check out Ocean Wise's seafood guide.