Voilà, now I know. So would I advise against eating at Bianchi because of this overdone sole? No, the chef knows what he’s doing, and my overcooked fish was probably an anomaly. But the experience gave me food for thought. So let’s go back to the issue of fish and ask a few questions:
1) Which fish restaurants in Zurich offer interesting dishes and an unusual selection? Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of a single one. That convinced me that Zurich’s restaurants tend to view fish as a sideshow. Either that, or they are ridiculously expensive and often a bit stuffy. The oyster bar on Gotthardstrasse may be popular, but I don’t want to go there all the time, despite its trendy sushi menu. The Wolfbächli in Hottingen serves up sole, monkfish, loup de mer, turbot and scampi from South Africa – a selection that I find deathly boring. And Tripadvisor’s list of Zurich’s best fish restaurants gives third place to Nordsee in the main station. In other words, I’m open to suggestions.
2) When I order fish in a restaurant, why don’t they ask me how I like my fish? When I eat turbot, I like it translucent, and the same goes for the much-underrated cod. It makes no sense to cook fish at over 70 degrees. As a side note, the Basque ‘al Pil-Pil’ method is a way of cooking fish in olive oil and allowing the protein jus to run out and emulsify by shaking the pan over the flame. It is then served with the fish as a sauce.
3) Is it okay to eat fish from industrial sea fishing? No. In my view, that’s even worse than eating meat. Fish from the Cantabrian Sea that is caught by local fishermen and exported straight to Switzerland is at least halfway acceptable from an ethical point of view. These fishermen are not keen to destroy their own livelihoods, so they take care to ensure fish stocks are maintained. Perhaps naively, I believe the same applies to MSC cod. After all, it’s recommended by the WWF.