Desert Companion

Trending: Sustainability in the Can

Rick Moonen peels open a new approach to serving fish


Love seafood? Like sustainability? Well, pull back the lid on a tin of sardines or pop the top on some canned tuna. Quality canned fish is not only delicious, it’s economically and environmentally sound, when harvested responsibly from abundant species like skipjack, yellowfin, and bonito. Since it’s long-lasting, it reduces waste and keeps its value for significant stretches of time.

I learned all this recently from none other than Rick Moonen, revered chef-owner of RM Seafood in the Shoppes at Mandalay Bay ( Moonen is highly regarded for his restaurant’s selection of top-notch fresh fish, from branzino to salmon, as well as his advocacy of environmentally sound fishing methods promoted by the Marine Stewardship Council and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

Moonen recently added a “Can-to-Table Crostini” appetizer dish to his epicurean offerings; it showcases wild-caught sardines and skipjack tuna. The sardine filets from BELA Brand Seafood are absolutely non-stinky and have a mild flavor profile akin to smoked Idaho trout. Plus, they don’t have bones to pick out. As for the tuna from purveyors like Matiz and Tonnino, the flaky chunks are as succulent as slow-braised chicken thigh. Add in sautéed spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and organic hard-cooked eggs, and the savory construction is something like a warm, open-faced pan bagnat, that famed Provençal sandwich.

Support comes from

Beyond bringing new flavor combinations to his guests, Moonen’s can-to-table menu also puts a spotlight on responsible seafood producers. “You’ve got to acknowledge them, so that everybody says, ‘Oh, that’s a good business model, let’s all do it.’”

The Mediterranean-influenced snack is Moonen’s first canned-fish foray in Las Vegas, and new dishes will eventually be offered. If you crib Moonen’s sustainable sardine-tuna recipes for your home-cooking enjoyment, just be sure to steer clear of downmarket sardines and albacore. Upscale brands are just a few bucks more, and they’ll make your environmentally conscious snack all the more delectable.

If you’ve enjoyed this read, wait until you get your hands on a bunch of these reads from contemporary voices mining the good stuff from Las Vegas — all laid out in a gorgeous design experience. Subscribe. It comes to your house. For real!

KNPR and NPR Thank-You Gifts including t-shirts hoodies and cap

More Stories

Desert Companion
Desert Companion
Dec 01, 2014

Chef's choice

DC Blog
Eat City
Jul 01, 2013

Steal these meals