The Minnesota Zoo works hard to promote sustainable seafood education in the Twin Cities with our Fish Smart Program. In a recent collaboration with a group of local food bloggers and activists called Fortify Food, we launched a recipe contest in which the bloggers were tasked to write a recipe using at least one sustainable seafood item as defined by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program (

Judging for the contest was done by three of the top seafood chefs in the Twin Cities which include Chef Jamie Malone of Minneapolis’ Sea Change, Chef Robert Wohlfeil of The Oceanaire Seafood Room, and Chef Adam Beal of the Smack Shack. The three judges cast their votes and the winner was chosen. That winner…

Lynne Morioka of the blog! features the various recipes of Lynne and her husband as they venture out into the world creating recipes that are not only inspired by being proactive in their local community, but they also work to replicate dishes from a variety of local and national celebrity chefs in an effort to make their elaborate work home-cook friendly.

Lynne’s winning dish was an Asian Fishcake Lettuce Wrap featuring sustainable, farm raised tilapia (see below for recipe).  Lynn tells us, “I chose tilapia because it’s a clean tasting, mild and versatile white fish that blends easily with many different flavors. It’s readily available, inexpensive and is a Best Choice on the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch list.”

This dish is not only delicious, but it’s really easy and we highly suggest that you give it a try! If you do, take a photo and share it with us on our Facebook page at or on Twitter @FishSmartMN!

If you’re looking for another delicious, yet sustainable seafood recipe, you should also check out the blog, by Jamie Carlson. Jamie’s walleye fish cakes were a close runner up and are another great example of an easy way to work sustainable seafood into your diet. Click here to see his recipe for Walleye Cakes.


Asian Fishcake Lettuce Wraps AsianFishCakes
(gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 lb. U.S. farmed tilapia (or other mild, white, sustainable fish)
2 TB fish sauce
1 small shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, minced
3 TB cilantro, chopped
1 TB Thai basil, chopped
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup avocado, mashed

1/4 cup rice flour (or all purpose flour)
2 TB extra virgin olive oil


Grind fish in a food processor. Gently mix all ingredients except for rice flour. Make into patties (or balls) and coat with rice flour. Heat a saute pan over med-high heat and add oil. Saute fish patties or fishballs until browned and cooked through, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. If sauteeing in batches, keep cooked patties/fishballs warm in oven or toaster oven at 160-180 degrees until ready to serve.

Makes approximately 6 patties.

Lettuce Cups and Filling

1 head butter lettuce
1/2 cup shelled edamame
2 oz. thin rice noodles. broken
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 TB shoyu (or soy sauce)

2 TB toasted peanuts (optional)
Sriracha (optional)

Carefully separate butter lettuce leaves, clean and dry well.

Cook edamame and noodles according to package directions. Toss together with sesame oil and shoyu. To be served warm, not hot.

Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce
1/2 avocado
2 TB cilantro, chopped
1 TB fresh lime juice
1/2 cup soy milk (or rice milk or regular milk)
1 TB olive oil
Salt to taste

Blend ingredients until sauce is incorporated. Add more or less milk depending on how thick you’d like the sauce to be.

Add filling to lettuce cups. Place fish cakes/fishballs on top of filling. Drizzle sauce over fish and sprinkle peanuts over lettuce cups. Add spice with Sriracha to taste.

NOTE: When we make these again, we’ll make fishballs instead of patties to make the lettuce wraps easier to eat.