We’re excited to announce a new Canadian fish producer has joined the 100km Foods family! Fogo Island Fish produces hand-line caught Fogo Island cod and seafood. But what makes them so special?
“The fish is so much cleaner, and fresher. The texture – you can still get a beautiful crispy skin, but the flesh has texture that almost melts in your mouth. It’s something I’ve never experienced before.”
That’s what Chef Lora Kirk from Ruby WatchCo has to say about the hand-line caught cod from Fogo Island Fish. This unparalleled quality is a huge reason why we are now partnering with Fogo Island Fish to distribute their cod and seafood products!
Fogo Island is a small island off the northeast coast of Newfoundland & Labrador, located in the Labrador current.
We know what you’re thinking and yes, you’re right, that’s not exactly a local Ontario product! But as you know, nor are we very close to the ocean.
So in terms of being local, Fogo Island Fish is some of the closest ocean caught fish we have access to. It’s ‘Canadian fish, for Canadians.’ We feel strongly that Fogo Island Fish is a perfect fit with the mandate we have at 100km Foods and is why we are so excited to begin distributing their products.
The History of Fogo Island Fish
Fogo Island Fish began as a small pilot project pioneered by Anthony (Tony) Cobb and Janice Thomson, his wife.
Tony’s family has been fishing for cod in the waters off the coast of Fogo Island, Newfoundland for the past two hundred years.
In the 1960’s, however, factory fishing changed the game considerably. Smaller fishermen using traditional hook-and-line methods edged out of cod fishing as a livelihood. Not only this but factory fishing on this scale drastically depletes cod stocks.
Tony’s father was one of the fishers who had to quit fishing in the 60’s and start another career to support his family. Thus, Tony is one of the first in eight generations who is not a fisher, though he still maintains a strong connection to Fogo Island and his family history.
Since 1992, there has been a moratorium of the cod fishery. A small stewardship fishery remains, but it’s still been difficult for local fishers to once again make a viable living catching cod.
Canadian Fish & The Fogo Island Fish Difference
This is why Tony and Janice wanted to use their understanding of the difficulties cod fishers face to start Fogo Island Fish as a social enterprise.
In the first year of this project, they enlisted thirty-three fishers to participate. This past year, this number increased to fifty.
The fishers only go out 5 miles from the coast in small day boats, where they catch 500-600 lbs of fresh fish per day, in sight of home.
Since they are so close to the island, the cod is processed within hours of being caught by cooperatively owned processing facility on Fogo Island. That’s where they filet, debone and package the cod, which employs more people from the island.
The cod is caught using hand lines, bled at sea, and flash frozen to maintain peak freshness. Hand lining also means there is no by-catch.
The cod is a cold (as in, really cold) water fish. The currents heading down the coast of Labrador are the same ones that bring icebergs in from Greenland.
The fish is caught just once per year (in the fall) which means the fish are at their physiological peak.
Canadian Fish: Where Are Your Food Dollars Going?
These products are available to chefs only and come direct from Fogo Island. This means that the fishers are paid double the market rates for fish, because there are fewer intermediaries.
Any surplus from the enterprise gets reinvested on Fogo Island through the Shorefast Foundation (a federally registered charity).
All of these are reasons to feel good about purchasing Fogo Island cod and seafood products. Their ethical fishing methods, creating local processing jobs and committing to providing the highest quality fish makes them a great fit for 100km Foods.
The quality and taste are really unlike cod from other parts of the world!
We carry the whole fillets (deboned and skin-on, 16oz-32oz), cod cheeks, cod tongues, and cod chunks. We also carry Fogo Island crab and shrimp products.
How to Use Fogo Island Cod Products
To thaw the products, follow the following method:
- Place the filets on a sheet with towels underneath to soak up any moisture that will accumulate.
- Place in fridge to slack thaw, do not cover.
- Let the fan in the fridge help dry out the moisture while it slack thaws.
- Thaw under refrigeration for a minimum of 12 hours, changing the towels as needed, at least twice is recommended. Total time to thaw will depend on your fridge and the size of fillets you are working with.
- If preferred, scales can easily be removed from the fillet using the back of a Chefs knife.
- We recommend leaving the skin on the cod as it helps retain the juices while cooking for a tender moist product.
- After thawed, portion to desired size, store in contains with more fresh towels or paper towels.
Don’t forget to age the fish! Once completely thawed, leave it in the fridge for a further 12 hours, to properly age the fish. If you age it longer, that is even better.
We can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with using this traditionally, sustainably hand-line caught cod! Tag us in our Fogo Island Fish Dishes on Instagram!
Many thanks to Janice and Tony for providing the pictures and information for this post.