Pedro Samper, Executive Chef, The Langham Hong Kong
”If the oceans die, we die – there’s no doubt about it. How are we going to preserve our oceans? That’s the important question. The next 10 years is crucial for the survival of our seas. When we choose sustainable products, it is not just about quality. Fisheries are not [harvesting] the seas in a sustainable way. They are contaminating and polluting the oceans. [Editor’s note: Unsustainable fisheries are destroying and polluting oceans through unsound methods and gear, as well as unregulated chemicals for aquaculture.] To prevent this is very important. It will take a lot of commitment. It will take a lot of people who can really explain to [everyone] what is going on with the oceans. If we are going to prevent [unsustainable practices], we need help from the big companies.”
How can we do better?
Since I was very young, I‘ve loved going fishing, and you learn how important it is that you are fishing in a responsible way, not just fishing for fun and ending up altering the ecosystem of the ocean. Be sustainable and responsible, catch what you’ll eat and, if you’re not eating it, release it back to the sea. [Editor’s note: This, however, is not the practice of many fisheries that catch non-targeted species with their all-or-nothing fishing method, which is also what makes them unsustainable.]
We don’t need to go to a seafood restaurant every day. If we try to eat in a more responsible way, more of a plant-based diet, we can preserve a little bit of our oceans as well.[Additionally,] cosmetic products that contain plastic “microbeads”, used in toothpaste and exfoliating creams, cannot be absorbed by the ocean or sea plants and accumulate in the sea. The fish mistake this for food and end up eating it. One thing you can do is research your creams to make sure they are organic and make exfoliating creams with salt, sugar or cashews.
Favourite seafood dish?
One of my favourite fish is cod; it’s a local catch. [Editor’s note: Chef Samper is from Spain.] The fishermen from my hometown used to go to Terranova and catch them and put them in salt so that we could preserve them. We put them in water for 24 hours to get the proper taste, and my mum used to cook them with pil-pil sauce, made with olive oil and the gelatin of the cod skin, and add a little bit of garlic and chilli to make the most magical sauce in the world. We would call it bacalao al pil-pil.