Porgy alla Salmoriglio + More Ideas for Fish Dinner
A couple weekends ago E & I went fishing with Capitol Princess Fishing Trips with a couple friends. We were really lucky to find a fishing yacht that departs from midtown manhattan, and surprisingly it was a lot less crowded that other fishing boats that we passed by. The yacht was extremely well maintained, and the staff was extremely friendly and helpful. It was such a fun-filled day, we didn't even mind our shirts splattered with scallop bait guts and fingers that smelled like the ocean for DAYS.
It took us around 2 hours to get to Lower Bay, which is located offshore from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. Once we came to a stop, the crew gave us a short tutorial to all the equipment. Right when he handed it over to me, I already felt some movement in the fishing pole and voila! that was my first catch of the day!
The next hour was practically the same thing, a slight tug, vigorously wheeling in the fish wire, another porgy in the bucket. Poor E, he just looked at me crushing it, still awaiting his first catch. This is probably the only sport I've beaten him in the four years we've known each other. Other people had great results too - we saw blue fish, sea robin, and even a few sand sharks! By the end of the day, the four of us had a record of 30 fish, all porgies.
Porgy, also known as bream, has a bad rep as the fish you'll get if you failed to catch fluke and bass. They are small fish, usually about 10" long, which makes them great for cooking whole. Of course, they are also great filleted for grilling or pan-frying. According to Seafood Watch, the go-to source for fish sustainability, porgy is rather abundant and is on the yellow list, meaning it's a good alternative for other overfished species. This doesn't mean porgy is inferior in flavour. In fact, the white fleshed fish is not too lean or fatty, and has a sweet delicate taste that a lot of professional chefs prefer.
As a general rule, you can substitute porgy for recipes that call for snapper and flounder. We had two whole fish, so I grilled one Italian style and steamed the other Cantonese style, with lots of soy sauce, scallion and cilantro. Grilled or pan-fried porgy fillets are great for fish tacos, or poached, like I did in a thai red curry sauce.
To store fresh caught fish, run it over cold water, and dry thoroughly before laying them out in a single layer. Wrap tightly in cling film, and store in freezer safe bags, making sure you press all the air out before closing it. Make sure the fish is fresh by checking for clear eyes, no fishy smell, shiny firm skin and bright red gills before cooking.
Porgy alla Salmoriglio
Serves 2-3. Adapted from The Washington Post.
The first thing that came to me when I caught my first fish was Sicilian. I knew I had to make something reminiscent of the food on this Mediterranean inspired Italian island. That means capers, citrus, olive oil and lots of herbs. A quick search brought me to Salmoriglio, a quintessential dressing found in Southern Italy. The name comes from from its three main ingredients: salt (sale), lemon (limone) and oregano (origano). This is my version.
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon salted capers
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tender inner celery rib, finely chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 whole, cleaned porgy (about 1 pound)
1-2 lemons, cut into thin wheels
½ sweet onion, cut into rings
1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
salt & pepper, to taste
- Prepare the grill by placing it over a stove top over high heat. Make sure your fish is descaled, gutted and pat dry, inside and out. Rub the fish with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper, both inside and out. Stuff the cavity with lemon wheels, sprigs of thyme.
- Place the fish on the grill and cook for 4 minutes, until there are char marks on the skin. Carefully turn the fish over with kitchen tongs, and cook for another 4 minutes. The fish should feel firm when pressed with a finger, and the flesh should be opaque. Remove from heat and rest on a plate.
- Toss the onion slices and remaining lemon wheels on the grill and cook until light char marks form.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing. Rinse and drain the salted capers. In a bowl, mash together oregano and capers until it forms a chunky paste. Whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice, and oil until emulsified, then stir in the celery. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, line the bottom of a platter with grilled onions and place the fish on top. Arrange grilled lemon wheels on top of the fish and spoon the dressing over. Serve immediately.