Last night we ate porgies. I bought them at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket from the excellent Long Island Sound based American Seafood stand. I prefer whole fish to fillet or steak. One of the reasons is that I like to look the fish in the eye. If the eye is clear, bright with dense black pupil & looking back at me I see/hear “buy me!” If the eye is cloudy, dry and sunken, the message is that this fish has been on display away from the water for too long. Other general indicators of fish freshness are:
The skin must be moist and shiny.
The gills need to be bright red or pinkish red. When pressed with the finger, flesh should bounce back and leave no indentation.
Fresh fish smells like fresh seaweed, any strong odor is suspicious. If the fish smells, even slightly, like ammonia discard it —I once worked with a chef who asked me to “bathe” the fillet we were to serve as “specials” that night in vinegar & water to make the smell disappeared! I refused.
As you can see my porgies were beautiful and cost me $5. Buying a whole fish is much cheaper by the pound. Yes! it is more work as you will have to debone it yourself. There is also more waste, but what about a fish soup with the bones? I will give you that recipe later. Also, below you will find a quick homemade video on how to serve your fish. I would appreciate if you have a few minutes to give me feedback on the specific questions.
Meanwhile, voilà today’s recipe:
2 Porgies (1 guted & scaled fish per person of 1/2 lb or so)
1 sweet onion peeled and sliced very thin
1 Italian or Jalapeño pepper, inside seeds and rib removed and chopped very small
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 ripe tomatoes
1 glass of dry white wine
1 or 2 limes
½ cup olive oil ¼ cup of butter
Preheat oven to 375º.
Coat the bottom of an ovenproof dish with olive oil. Arrange the onions & hot peppers.
Add the tomatoes.
Add white wine. Make 2 slits on the fish.
Salt the inside of the fish, squeeze some lime into it & stuff with a few sprigs of fresh (well washed) cilantro.
Insert slices of lime into the slits on the fish.
Pour the juice of ½ a lime over. Scatter tiny pieces of butter on top of the fish.
Put in the oven for 25/30 minutes.
Baste the fish every 10 minutes with the liquid in the pan.
We ate them with corn on the cob and a beet salad. More details on the video on how to serve it.
How to serve the whole fish family style:
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