Food & Drink

Chefs Want You To Eat Small Fish. Here's How To Do It.

These fish are "as good for the planet as for the plate."
03/25/2015 10:15am ET | Updated March 25, 2015

Last week, a group of world-renowned chefs got together in Spain to discuss an incredibly important environmental issue: The overfishing of our oceans. Their solution? Eat small fish.

Around the globe, industrial fishing poses a serious threat to large fish like tuna and swordfish. Some scientists believe that if practices continue as is, the large fish population could become all but non-existent within 50 years. Numbers have already diminished significantly. A 2013 study showed that Pacific bluefin tuna, for example, has seen a population decline of 96 percent from unfished levels.

Addressing this pressing problem doesn't have to feel like a sacrifice, as chefs such as Ferran Adria and Grant Achatz suggested at the summit, which was organized by ocean advocacy group Oceana. Eating small fish, or "forage fish," like anchovies, sardines, herring and mackerel, will not only help curb the overfishing of popular large fish, but it can be totally delicious.

Many people simply haven't had enough exposure to these kinds of small fish, and what exposure they may have had might be misleading. Anchovies and sardines are potent, to be sure, but their bad rap isn't fair. They can pack a serious umami punch and bring a wonderful, rich quality to your dishes. If you aren't accustomed to or a fan of their strong flavor, you could start by using small quantities or by using anchovy paste, which has been called "a secret ingredient in the cook's arsenal."

From there, expand your horizons. Once you start experimenting with these tiny but powerful fish, you'll totally see why all these famous chefs are encouraging you to go small. The chefs at last week's summit are not only calling on others to eat more foraged fish; they're agreeing to lead by example and serve more anchovies and the like in their restaurants. They're also committed to training other chefs and developing easy recipes for home cooks. Check out the 22 recipes below to discover how small fish are "as good for the planet as for the plate."

1
Grilled Romaine Salad With IPA Caesar Dressing
The Beeroness
Get the Grilled Romaine Salad With IPA Caesar Dressing recipe by The Beeroness
2
Pasta Con Sarde
Food52
Get the Pasta Con Sarde recipe by blanka.n from Food52
3
Pickled Herring With Sour Cream And Onion
Food52
Get the Pickled Herring With Sour Cream And Onion recipe by Nicolaus Balla & Cortney Burns from Food52
4
Pissaladiere
Tartelette
Get the Pissaladiere recipe from Tartelette
5
Mackerel With Roasted Fennel, Meyer Lemon, And Olives
Martha Stewart
6
Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce
Simply Recipes
Get the Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce recipe from Simply Recipes
7
Fried Smelt
Steamy Kitchen
Get the Fried Smelt recipe from Steamy Kitchen
8
Roasted Kale and Fennel Salad with Avocado Caesar Dressing
FoodieCrush
9
Sardine Butter
Food52
Get the Sardine Butter recipe by Cristina Sciarra from Food52
10
Roasted Mackerel With Aioli And Parsleyed Potatoes
Food52
Get the Roasted Mackerel With Aioli And Parsleyed Potatoes recipe by CarolineWright from Food52
11
Smoked Mackerel Pâté With Horseradish And Dill
Food52
12
Sardine Rillette
Food52
Get the Sardine Rillette recipe by Bee @ deuxdilettantes from Food52
13
Spaghetti With Shallots, Sage, Lemons And Anchovies
Lemon & Anchovies
Get the Spaghetti with Shallots, Sage, Lemons And Anchovies recipe from Lemon & Anchovies
14
Peri Peri Pepper-Almond Dip With Marinated Anchovies
Lemons & Anchovies
Get the Peri Peri Pepper-Almond Dip with Marinated Anchovies recipe from Lemons & Anchovies
15
Sardines, Hummus, Toast
Food52
Get the Sardines, Hummus, Toast recipe by Nicholas Day from Food52
16
Anchovy Onion Butter
cookingwithleftovers from Food52
Get the Anchovy Onion Butter recipe by cookingwithleftovers from Food52
17
Linguine With Sardines, Fennel And Tomato
Food52
Get the Linguine With Sardines, Fennel And Tomato recipe by lastnights dinner from Food52
18
Baked Eggs With Potatoes And Anchovies
Ichigo Shortcake
Get the Baked Eggs With Potatoes And Anchovies recipe from Ichigo Shortcake
19
Crispy Anchovies
Food4Tots
Get the Crispy Anchovies recipe from Food4Tots
20
Linguine WIth Anchovy Sauce And Breadcrumbs
BevCooks
Get the Linguine WIth Anchovy Sauce And Breadcrumbs recipe from BevCooks
21
Classic Caesar Salad
Bev Cooks
Get the Classic Caesar Salad recipe from Bev Cooks
22
Tomato Saffron Fish Stew With Anchovy Pesto
Cook Sister
Get the Tomato Saffron Fish Stew With Anchovy Pesto recipe by Cook Sister

Want to read more from HuffPost Taste? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Seafood Recipes For Beginners