Podcast 470: Fresh Catch Fish

In this episode, we are delighted to have Jorgé Ureña back on the podcast. As the CEO and founder of two sustainable agricultural companies, namely UHTCO and the recently established Peruvian Harvest Fresh Catch Fish, he continues to make a significant impact. The products from these companies cater to individuals who prioritize their health, as they are free from undesirable ingredients and consist only of high-quality fish paired with thoughtfully chosen seasonings.

Certified by Friends of the Sea (FOS) for environmentally sustainable harvest. Comes in premium packaging that is Bisphenol A-free. Free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), crafted from wild sources.

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MARTIN: Hello everyone this is Martin Pytela Life Enthusiast podcast. And with me today Jorgé Ureña, or as the Canadians and Americans would probably do George Urena.

JORGE: Yeah.

MARTIN: 20 years later you almost forget what your real name is right?

JORGE: Well, it’s always been George, and it’s just in Canada the pronunciation is a little bit different though. But yeah my name is pronounced in Spanish as Jorgé, okay? It’s quite difficult, probably for an English-speaking person, but George is fine. I mean, my friends at school call me George all the time.

MARTIN: You more than I are involved in feeding the world, feeding the world in a quality way. 

JORGE: For 20 years, we’ve been involved in bringing the best of Peru to the world. We started with Maca, Camu Camu, the vitamin C product from the fruit. Yacon, and grains, like quinoa, kiwicha, and kaniwa. We got into Cacao Chocolate as well. I mean healthy chocolate with no sugar. So every day we have new creations, and we incorporate quite a few ingredients we work with in new developments. We proudly say that we excel in innovation, and today we’re going to be talking about one of these products, which is totally off—I mean, the supplement world, in a way. Okay, we’re talking about healthy ready to eat food. But it’s not a supplement.

MARTIN: So, well, let’s describe it, right? It starts way back, 2,000 years ago. We have Hippocrates, the “let thy food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food,” right? Alright, right there at the beginning, and it happens so often with me saying, “You don’t have a supplement problem; you have a fork problem. You are making yourself sick with what you’re eating.”

JORGE: It is true, yeah, yeah. Most of the supplements that we have in the market, through different brands or different categories of products, they’re basically 100% food. It’s just, they’re called supplements because they’re in a dosage presentation, so it’s different, like a capsule, for example, or tablet. But in fact, they’re all 100% food. And our products are mainly single ingredients, so there’s no formulation, except for one or two that we have. but basically, it’s just food.

MARTIN: So let’s get into this. So what do we have today? It’s called Fresh Catch.

JORGE: Yeah, so as maybe many of your customers know, we’ve been involved in a food category under the brand Peruvian Harvest. A few years back, we developed a new line of canned fish, and these are very unique products. We aim to provide the typical Peruvian dishes. So, if you ever go to Peru and try some of these sauces, let’s say they’re linked with the canned fish that we have. These are all typical, meaning, this is what people normally eat in Peru. Of course, we tweak the recipe a little bit to make it more North American, so people can get used to it. And I’m going to explain little by little, one by one what I’m talking about.

MARTIN: So, let’s get to it this way. Canned food, especially canned fish, provides a phenomenal amount of nutrients. Number one, of course, is the protein, it’s there. But the second thing is, of course, there are some very valuable nutrients in there, mainly minerals and fatty acids. I mean, fish are known for the EPA and DHA, which are super important. We find that deficiency of these essential fatty acids leads to all kinds of inflammatory, degenerative conditions. In skin health, muscle health, tissue health, muscle volume, flexibility in the arteries, and whatnot. All of that is directly related to the availability of essential fatty acids.

JORGE: Yep. That is correct, yes. So, what we have here we’re presenting is a line of mackerel from the Pacific Ocean. The variety is called Scomber Japonicus Peruvianus. So, it is a very specific variety of mackerel that comes from this precise location in Peru, south of the equator where abundant cold water lies. Now, I have to explain a little bit about our location and about the cold water. Peru is actually south of the equator. 

 MARTIN: I just want to say one more thing before we get into the specifics. In general, it’s important for people to understand that canned fish is actually quite well preserved. The nutrients stay viable for a good long time. And it’s one of the most fantastic ways of feeding yourself in a situation that’s not fun. Like, for example, if you have no refrigeration. If you have no light. If you have no heat. If you have, I don’t know, your earthquake preparedness kit. Or whatever preparedness situation you want to have. You want to have this on hand. I always keep 24 cans of fish in my house because I want to be able to sustain myself in a decent way in case of trouble. That’s me, right? Of course, one more thing. I’m the metabolic typing advisor. I am of the understanding how genetics and nutrition intersect. And about 45% of people on the planet are thyroid dominant, which means that they’re mostly coastal. Coastal dominance. And all of us are well adapted through our ancestors to eating fish or fish source food. So the importance, I’m just trying to frame it. And this is not just some child’s play. I’m trying to bring to the world, to our audience, something that is important and should be both healthy and also safe and also important for our sustenance.

JORGE: Mm-hmm. Correct.

MARTIN: Anyway, back to the cold water. Cold water is really important. Let’s talk about geography. 

JORGE: Okay. So, I mean, here’s the thing. Peru was supposed to be a tropical country. We’re just below the equator line. So if you go north of the equator line, you will reach Ecuador, which is the country. And the waters are quite warm or hot. For instance, in Ecuador you will find a rich variety of tuna, for example. You can source the tuna fish from warm or hot waters. Now, the reason why the ocean in Peru is cold is because we have what we call the Humboldt current. And that current brings cold water from Antarctica all the way up to the equator. 

MARTIN: Yeah. It goes up along the coast, up the Chilean coast.

JORGE: Yeah. Exactly. And here’s the thing, when we have the El Niño effect, that goes the other way. So, hot water goes down, brings more humidity, and the temperature of the water rises significantly. Humidity increases, we have a lot of rain and then Peru becomes tropical for a short period of time. And that’s El Niño. Which actually causes a big problem for agriculture because you get rain where you’re not supposed to get rain. So the whole climate changes. Now, most of the time, the waters are cold. And that’s where we source the mackerel, which is very rich and abundant on the coast of Peru. Another key factor to understand is that Peru is one of the few countries, I think there’s only maybe three or four, there might be more—that have a 200-mile sea border.

MARTIN: Right. Yeah. The typical is three. Some have 12.

JORGE: Yeah. And that allows us to do deep-sea fishing. So, that means the fishermen go all the way to the 200-mile border and that’s where the mackerel is caught and brought over. For some reason, the fish that we have in Peru, the variety is incredible. We have not just mackerel, but we have different kinds of species. It is very rich, clean, pristine, and obviously if it’s caught properly, you’re going to get a good source of material to work with. And that’s what we have here. We also have another one, which you’ll see it in the documents I sent you. One has nothing to do with the Pacific Ocean. It’s called Paiche. And that’s another one that’s very unique. Paiche grows in the Amazon River. The concept behind this line of products is basically ready to eat. This is our slogan, by the way: ‘ready to eat, ready to share, and ready to enjoy.’ Because the product is really, you can open the box, you can open the can, and it’s ready to eat straight from the can. You can also put the content of the can in a bowl of pasta or rice and make a poke bowl, for example. You can also use it as what we call the Peruvian seafood tapas. I guess your audience may be familiar with that. What tapas are, and it’s more like Spanish appetizers, like canned food. Or they call it finger foods.

MARTIN: Tiny servings.

JORGE: Correct. And you put crackers around, and then you serve a little bit of this product. So, in many ways you can enjoy this product. So it’s not just, it’s a complete meal. And the portions are really big. That’s another thing that you’re going to realize when you get them. And I think you’ve got the products already.

MARTIN: I do. I have had the opportunity to taste several of them. Yeah, for one thing, the can is substantial. So I managed to eat the whole thing in one sitting. But it’s lovely. I could have probably shared it with one other person, and it would still be okay. But I liked it so much, I ate the whole thing.

JORGE: So when we develop the recipes, we try to incorporate some of the flavors that we’re used to in Peru. More or less, that’s what we have here on this line of products. We took care of very minor details. For example, usually when you get a can of fish, not all of them, but of course, there are many that include some additives. And they usually even clean the fish with chlorine water.

MARTIN: Well, yeah, they want to get rid of the smell of the fish.

JORGE: Sometimes. Okay. So we don’t. So we use even on the cleaning and the manufacturing, we use spring water. Believe it or not. 

MARTIN: I’m looking at the can of the Paiche and it says with asparagus, artichokes and peppers. So that alone is going to have its own taste. So when you’re saying, well, all you need is you can just dump the can on a bed of rice and you will have something of a meal, especially when you combine it with maybe some salad or something like that.

JORGE: Even we have Smoked Mackerel. And the Paiche as well is smoked. We use a Pallo Diablo, which is a special wood that burns very slowly. And we smoke it over eight hours.

MARTIN: Very nice.

JORGE: So let me just go one by one.

MARTIN: Please let’s have it. So let’s talk about the paiche just to be sure.

JORGE: The Paiche. Okay. So probably will be a good idea to, I don’t know if you can google on your computer and just type paiche. P-A-I-C-H-E.

MARTIN: Well, sure. And you’re doing it as well.

JORGE: Just get the images. Because it is an almost extinct variety of fish. 

MARTIN: I mean, you’re writing here that it’s a cultivated fish that you don’t go to the wild to catch it. You actually use the cultivated and the farmed. It looks to me like something of a monster. It reminds me of an Anaconda.

JORGE: Yeah, correct. And it’s huge. I think it’s over 10 feet, if I remember correctly.

MARTIN: 14 feet.

JORGE: 14. There you go. And so it is naturally farmed, which means that we normally cut the river in two sections. So we allow the fish to live in this section we’re talking about kilometers of the river. And as I mentioned, these fish love Camu Camu. Initially it grows inland. And then when the rain comes, floods the river and it becomes off land submerged in water and the Camu Camu that falls, that’s normally eaten by the fish. It’s incredible, really. So this is the  actual can. And in order to use the fish for the preparation, we need to obtain a certificate. It’s called CITES. And CITES is a certificate that ensures that we are not using too much. To the point that we can exhaust the availability.

MARTIN: Yeah. Managed harvest. 

JORGE: Yeah, exactly. 

MARTIN: Great. So it’s sustainable. 

JORGE: It is sustainable for sure. Yes. 

MARTIN: Okay. What does it taste like? I haven’t tried this.

JORGE: I would say in this case it will be white fish.

MARTIN: Okay. Is it kind of neutral or mild?

JORGE: It’s very neutral, but it has a very unique taste. So I would say, for example, it could be more like a cross between a cod and halibut. 

MARTIN: Right.

JORGE: It’s delicious. 

MARTIN: Wild, delicious. All right. That’s great.

JORGE: I mean, the taste is amazing in combination with the asparagus, artichokes and peppers. It tastes really good. The other thing that we are using with these line of products is we have extra virgin olive oil. 

MARTIN: I really appreciate that. 

JORGE: In all of them. And this is 100% Peruvian olive oil, which comes from the South of Peru. Tacna. That’s the province that produces the oil. We decided not to go with an Italian version or a Spanish version because we wanted to keep it Peruvian. That’s the concept. 


JORGE: And to help, obviously the farmers that they grow the olives in the South and they have this industry going, it is delicious, by the way. 

MARTIN: I have no doubt that it’s fine.

JORGE: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

MARTIN: The ones that I have tasted.

JORGE: Okay. I’m glad you like it.

MARTIN: Yeah. Okay.

JORGE: So that’s for the Paiche and this is a very unique fish. We have a limited production. Maybe. I don’t know if we still have stocks or not. Maybe very limited, but we’ll have some available obviously for you guys as well. 

MARTIN: Okay. So what else do you have?

JORGE: So the next one, which I could probably talk about is the one that you mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, which is the purple olive.

MARTIN: Right on.

JORGE: Mackerel.


JORGE: So these. 

MARTIN: Look up purple olive. 

JORGE: So this is a story. There’s a story behind the purple olives. So what happened is, all these are native from the Mediterranean. So that means, Spain, Croatia,

MARTIN: Greece.

JORGE: Italy, Greece. Okay. And the Spanish when they conquered Peru, they brought many things, among them horses and olives. So when they planted the green olives in Peru, the green olives became purple. 

MARTIN: Probably because of the soil.

JORGE: It’s because of the soil. I guess it has to do with the location of where Peru is located. The sunlight, I don’t know. Many aspects. But the soil is the primary factor. Because as you know, we also have purple Maca.  And we have purple potatoes. 

MARTIN: And corn.

JORGE: And you know, many, purple. That’s another one. So a new variety of olives was created when they planted these olives in Peru. And it became a staple for many dishes in Peru. It was called botija. And what botija means is just like where you store the olives. 

MARTIN: Okay. 

JORGE: Okay. So I don’t know. It’s just a traditional name that just was carried over for many years. And that’s how we know them. Botija olives. So they’re not Kalamata. They’re very big, thick, juicy, and 100% purple. I mean, it will stain your hands, your clothes, everything. It’s just really, really deep purple. 


JORGE: So, what we’ve done is we created a sauce. Which is just a combination of a little bit of garlic, onions, the botija olives, extra virgin olive oil, Maras pink salt. And then we blend it to obtain a thick, nice sauce. So there’s no milk or dairy products or thickeners or anything like that. All these products are gluten free, by the way. And so it is delicious. I don’t know if you tried this one or not.

MARTIN: No, I didn’t have that.

JORGE: Okay. But this is probably one of the flavors that most people like.  And I was doing quite a few presentations on the fish, at just a chain of stores here in Ontario called Nature’s Emporium.  And oh my God. I mean, people love it a lot. Because not so many people are inclined to eat olives. Because of the taste. But in this case, it was amazing. They love it. 

 JORGE: I’m trying to describe it the best way I can.

MARTIN: Oh, just get a can and try one.

JORGE: There you go.

MARTIN: Decide for yourself. 

JORGE: Okay. So, in this case, what we have are filets of mackerel. Okay. Because you have two different ways of cutting the mackerel. I mean, you can cut it vertical. 


JORGE: And then you will have, uh. 

MARTIN: They look like a steak.

JORGE: We call it medallions. 

MARTIN: Yeah. It has the spine in the middle and the body of the fish is all around it. 

JORGE: That is correct. Exactly. Or filets. If you just go with the,

MARTIN: You cut along the spine. You end up with these flat pieces.

JORGE: Yeah. The next one that we achieved was the,

MARTIN: This is the one with the smoked mackerel.

JORGE: These are medallions, by the way. 

MARTIN: Yeah. Okay.

MARTIN: Can you read the name of it?

JORGE: Red. It’s a red pepper marinade.

MARTIN: Oh, yeah. Pepper and onion. I had that last night.

JORGE: Okay. This is another of the flavors that people love a lot. 

MARTIN: It looked to me like it was a tomato because it was red.

JORGE: True. And here’s the innovative part. When you go to Peru and you order, the name of this dish is called Escabeche. Don’t ask me where this comes from.  There’s no meaning to the word itself, but Escabeche is a marinade. But the way it is served in Peru is with big, thick pieces of onion, and also red pepper. Big, big chunks. So the problem with that was that if we presented the fish as the Escabeche traditionally done in Peru, many, many people would see it. I mean, that’s so nice. So we converted that into a sauce. So we made a sauce out of the onions and the red peppers. And we actually marinated the fish in the sauce for a period of time. So all the flavor is in there when you eat the fish. Same thing, we use extra virgin olive oil, a little bit of garlic as well to get that touch and something that you will see on the, and I think I sent you the nutritional profiles for every product.  And now these are the new ones. So that includes the EPA, DHA and vitamin D as well in the product. The nutritional profile is amazing on all of them. 

MARTIN: Yes. I actually had this Mackerel Medallion with the sauce last night with a salad.

JORGE: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: My salad was rice with a bunch of other ingredients like cucumber, onion, olive, and so on. A full salad with this fish on top. It was marvelous!

JORGE: Yep. True story on these products,  I remember when my mother was alive. She didn’t like mackerel, believe it or not. She always liked the white fish, not the better version because you know, the darker fish is actually better for the omegas and all that. 

MARTIN: Well. And also one important point, mackerel is fairly high in purine. So all people who are on the hunter side of genetics, 

JORGE: Mm-hmm

MARTIN: They really benefit from having the cold, dark fish, the group that we’re discussing would be a sardine, herring, mackerel, salmon probably would go into that group. 

JORGE: Yeah, maybe. Correct.

MARTIN: Right. 

JORGE: Yeah.

MARTIN: Like that.

JORGE: So the next one will be the sprouted quinoa. 

MARTIN: Yeah. Right. Right. 

JORGE: Okay. So here’s an example of combining a product that we carry as well under Peruvian harvest. We have a sprouted quinoa product, like grain and powder. Both products are sold under the Peruvian harvest line. So we incorporated the quinoa with the fish, and it’s really good. So that is actually a meal by itself.


JORGE: You have the combination in there already. Right?


JORGE: And the sprouted quinoa, why are we using that? Because you see when you sprout the quinoa, you activate the plant, making it more absorbable. And all the nutrients, the protein, the amino acids. And everything that comes with the quinoa, will be better absorbed if it’s from a sprouted source. We combine it just with olive oil, a touch of garlic and I think there are filets as well, in this case. 


JORGE: Very good. Very good products. 

MARTIN: Yup. I had this one and it was lovely. I was thinking, yeah, I could just take, I don’t know, a slice of nice rye bread or something like that and put it on top. 


MARTIN: And run with that.


MARTIN: It was awesome. 

JORGE: Perfect. And the one that I think you loved, is this one here. 

MARTIN: Yeah. This was the smoked mackerel. 

JORGE: Smoked mackerel. I mean, listen, there’s not so many people that like smoked. You have different flavors if you like smoked products. That’s the best really. 


JORGE: It’s really unique.

MARTIN: You know, it reminded me of course, of the taste of my childhood in Europe. I grew up in Europe and we actually bought smoked mackerel, the European mackerel, which is a fish.

JORGE: Oh yeah.

MARTIN: About yay big. [shows length of fish with his hands on screen]

JORGE: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: And we would buy the whole fish and it would arrive wrapped in a newspaper.

JORGE: Oh yeah.

MARTIN: It was because it was dripping with grease. It’s a greasy fish. 

JORGE: Yeah. Yeah.

MARTIN: And so you would just lay the newspaper on the table and you would just rip it apart and eat it right off the body. 

JORGE: True. I’ve been in Europe as well. I think Portugal. They have quite a bit of fish there. So that’s it for the line. 

MARTIN: Let’s count it. So we have smoked, pepper sauce, olive sauce.

JORGE: Mm-hmm

MARTIN: And the paiche with the spices. 

JORGE: Yeah.

MARTIN: Okay. 

JORGE: I mean, honestly, there are five. Yes. As I said, The Paiche is limited. Maybe I still have some stock on that, but it is very unique. And the funny side of it is just that this fish eats one of the products that we sell a lot on the market. Camu Camu, the vitamin C. 

MARTIN: Right on.

JORGE: That’s why this fish is so rich in nutrients as well. Yeah.

MARTIN: Fantastic. So I think we’re going to sell either a stack of several or one of each, probably four packs and eight packs. Sounds like we won’t be able to get The Paiche.

JORGE: Well, I still have a few, so I can send you some anyway. 

MARTIN: All right. 

JORGE: Okay. The products are highly demanded. We just introduced the products in the United States to a few customers as well. And we’ve been around sampling the products as well. And also new developments because this is just a start. What’s coming next? We have mackerel in cilantro sauce. Which again, that’s another typical dish or sauce used in Peru. That particular one, for example, is from the south of Italy. The cilantro sauce. Peruvians were influenced by Italian immigrants from the south. 


JORGE: For instance, you know the minestrone?


JORGE: Usually when you have it in North America, it will be red. In Peru, the minestrone is green. They use a lot of cilantro, basil. It’s Spanish, it’s a different flavor.

MARTIN: It’s great. 

JORGE: Yeah.

MARTIN: I guess what we should say is, this is not a down market. This is a premium product, right?

JORGE: It is 100%. Yes. And people will appreciate the fact that they’re getting something well done, rich in nutrients, and healthy. As you mentioned at the beginning, this is something that you want to have for those difficult times, let’s say. If it happens. 

MARTIN: Well, thank you very much for taking the time to introduce it. We will do our best to share it with the world and tell them that Peruvian fish can sustain us. 

JORGE: Yes. And let me know if you need any further information. I can send that by email and then you can actually send it to your customers as well. 

MARTIN: You bet. Thank you very much. This is George Urena from UHTCO and Martin Pytela for Life Enthusiast, life-enthusiast.com. And you can also call us at 866-543-3388. And you will see the links to the products in the show notes. Thank you very much.



Author: Life Enthusiast