It's the most wonderful time of the year: Sandwich Night is returning to Indigenous next Wednesday, July 27. Every summer, Chef Steve Phelps sets aside Wednesday nights to feature a sandwich and a beer or glass of wine for $25. This year's sandwiches will be seafood-focused and in line with Phelps' commitment to sustainability.
"The cobia hot dog is our most requested sandwich, so we're going to feature it first," says Phelps. This twist on a "hot dog" consists of a perfectly portioned piece of aquaculture-raised cobia with sauerkraut, house-made relish and Phelps' favorite condiment: Ball Park mustard. Other offerings throughout the summer will include Nashville hot fish, fish katsu and a green goddess fish club, all accompanied by hushpuppies and one of Phelps' signature tartar sauces.
As with the cobia dog, most of the fish sandwiches will feature aquaculture-raised fish. Aquaculture, a sustainable method of raising and harvesting fish that's described as "farming in water," is integral to Phelps' personal mission.
"We're here at Indigenous to help educate people about aquaculture and help them trust and understand it," he explains.
Phelps has been an ambassador for the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program for several years. He is also a founding member and ambassador for the Coalition for Sustainable Aquaculture, an affiliate of the Environmental Defense Fund. The coalition aims to create a "responsible path forward for ocean farming in U.S. waters," according to a press release.
Phelps, along with more than 20 chefs from around the country, will help guide the coalition by promoting sustainable aquaculture practices in order to create demand in the U.S. Currently, our country exports more than 85 percent of its aquaculture-raised fish—regardless of the American demand for fresh, local seafood.
With the aid of chefs like Phelps, there's hope to provide fish to a broader population.
"I think we've turned a page," says Phelps of his guests' widening interest in sustainable aquaculture. Sandwich Night is another step toward championing this effort.