It’s not really much “like lobster”, as some would have it, but it is a sweet fish, in more than one sense.
I’ve written a bit about tilefish in an earlier post.
It’s difficult to imagine that it was once included within that hoary commercial seafood classification, ‘trash fish’, along with, among others species I would now consider delicacies, like sea robin, dogfish, and even redfish, hake, and porgy.
These 2 fillets were my first choice at the fishmongers’ on Friday.
I was reluctant to turn on the oven on a very warm night, and I didn’t want to use any of the preparations that are my usual alternatives to roasting. I looked around on line and found this simple and very delicious recipe, making only a few alterations.
The polenta included in the photograph accompanying the recipe would have been very nice, but I had some vegetables to bring out last night.
They were: some very deep green and very fresh okra, the very last little basket at the stand where I found it (also, the only okra I saw that day and the only okra I’ve seen so far this year); and a small amount of beautiful rainbow chard that I had washed and rinsed 2 days earlier, before realizing I had more than enough for that night’s meal.
I also had some slightly eccentric additions I wanted to add to the tilefish: the last of the garlic flowers I had enjoyed scattering on top of so many things for at least a whole week; and a package of nasturtium leaves I had picked up that day.
- two 9-ounce tilefish fillets from Pure Vida Seafood, washed, rinsed, patted dry, sprinkled lightly with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper and set aside; 2 tablespoons of butter and part of one small dried dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia heated over medium heat and one whole garlic clove from Norwich Meadows Farm allowed to roast in the warm butter for a few minutes, until it started to color (I found the butter beginning to color just before the garlic did, but that didn’t present a problem) and then removed, the tilefish fillets added to the pan flesh side down and cooked, still over medium heat, for maybe 2 minutes, allowing them to also brown, after which they were flipped over and 2 tablespoons of chopped spring shallots from Alewife Farm were tossed in, the butter mixture spooned over the fish (I usually find it easier to use a silicone basting brush), after which the pan was covered with aluminum foil for about 2 minutes and removed, the juices once again spooned or brushed over the the fillets until they had browned and been cooked through (perhaps for another 2 minutes), when they were removed to the plates, sprinkled with lemon zest (of an Organic lemon from Whole Foods Market) and a little lemon juice, some garlic flowers scattered on top, chopped lightly, and nasturtium leaves from Two Guys from Woodbridge draped across the middle of the fillets
- okra from Oak Grove Plantation, sautéed over a high flame in a large enameled cast iron pan with a little olive oil, seasoned with sea salt
- a portion of a bunch of rainbow chard from Echo Creek Farm, the larger part of which had already been made a part of this meal 2 days earlier, wilted in a little olive oil in which 2 halved garlic cloves from Norwich Meadows Farm had been heated, then seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper and drizzled with a little olive oil, served in small oval bowls to the side of the plates
- the wine was an Italian (Campania) white, Terredora Falanghina 2016, from Garnet Wines
- the music was the album, ‘Musick For Severall Friends’, a compendium of seventeenth-century English music by the composers John Wilson, Christopher Simpson, Johann Schop, Henry Butler, and Matthew Locke, with Mary Springfels directing the Newberry Consort
If I’m rushed enough to decide it’s time for a quick prepared fresh pasta, and too rushed to think about what to do with it, I often give myself a break and look on this site for inspiration, and sometimes for a complete model.
On Thursday that’s exactly what I did. Some 9 months after enjoying the original (or maybe just something repeating the original), the results were very good, and the dish didn’t even seem familiar.
- two chopped garlic cloves from Norwich Meadows Farm heated inside a large tin-lined high-sided copper pan in a little olive oil until pungent, most of one orange dried Habanada pepper, crushed, added to the pan and stirred over medium heat for a minute, a large handful of cherry tomatoes from Stokes Farm, halved, and some chopped lovage from Central Valley Farm introduced, followed by a generous amount of pine nuts (pinoli) from Whole Foods Market that had been toasted earlier in a cast iron pan, and finally a 10-ounce package of cooked and drained Rana spinaci e ricotta [spinach and ricotta] ravioli from Eataly was spilled into the pan, as was some of the reserved pasta cooking water, carefully mixed with the sauce over medium heat to emulsify it, the pasta finished in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, and a scattering of garlic flowers from Windfall Farms
- the wine was an Italian (Campania) white, Cantina di Lisandro Alabranno Fiano 2015, from Chelsea Wine Vault
- the music was the album, ‘Wassenaer Attr Pergolesi: Concerti Armonici‘, orchestral pieces composed in 1740, Karl Münchinger conducting the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
The results were not spectacular this time (by the way, I would say that these were close to nonpareil), but while the scallops were certainly not big, I blame their shortcomings on the way I cooked them (the height of the flame, the amount of the oil, too long?). Still, it would be very hard to ruin a dish described as scallops stuffed with Italian basil and garlic.
And the basil, ‘Genovese‘ this time, was superb.
The ‘greens’ were pretty wonderful as well (I don’t remember rainbow chard ever being as sweet as I’ve found it to be this season – or its colors so brilliant).
- 17 medium sea scallops (13 ounces) from Blue Moon Fish Company, rinsed, dried, slit horizontally with a very sharp knife almost all of the way, stuffed with a mixture of Genovese basil from windfall Farms, one medium-size clove of garlic from Stokes Farm, sea salt, and black pepper, all chopped together very finely, the stuffing ingredients removed to a small bowl where just enough olive oil was added to form a paste, the stuffed scallops then rolled around on a plate with a little more olive oil, drained, pan grilled little more than a minute on each side, removed to 2 plates, an organic lemon from Whole Foods squeezed over the top, garnished with chopped garlic flowers from Windfall Farms
- rainbow chard from Alewife Farm, wilted in a little olive oil in which 2 halved garlic cloves from Norwich Meadows Farm had first been heated, finished with a squeeze of juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, arranged on the plates and drizzled with a little olive oil
- the wine was an Oregon (Willamette) white, Carabella Vineyard Pinot Gris Estate Chehalem Mountains 2014, from Chelsea Wine Vault
- the music was the magnificent album, ‘James Tenney: Spectrum Pieces‘
I had no idea this meal would end up so well.
The whelks were a big surprise. They had been an impulse purchase the day before, when I had picked up some finned seafood for a dinner that night. They had already been cooked, making it easy for me, as long as I could come up with a way to serve them. After looking at a number of sites on line, I ended up I pretty much winging it, with the help of a well-stocked larder.
Super, and the salad looked pretty nice too.
I had decided early on that the main course would be a pasta. Remembering that I had a terrific local grain box of artisanal ‘trumpets’, it was easy to imagine them associating with some sautéed early season cucumbers (2 kinds) that I had also purchased on Monday. At that point my dinner had become a thing.
And it was delicious.
- five ounces of cooked whelks from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, sliced thinly and mixed with some finely-sliced ramp bulbs from Berried Treasures Farm, minced garlic from Norwich Meadows Farm, crushed dried pepperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, olive oil, juice from an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, a bit of Columela Rioja 30 Year Reserva sherry vinegar, chopped stems of baby fennel bulbs from Central Valley Farm, chopped lovage from Central Valley Farm, chopped parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm, all kinds of chopped herbs left over from the preparation of the Porgy the day before, sea salt, and Freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, served on flat plates on top of leaves of a purple frizzy oak leaf lettuce from Norwich Meadows Farm topped with a drizzle of olive oil
- five cucumbers, of 2 different kinds, from Norwich Meadows Farm (their names still undetermined when I left the farmers’ Union Square Market stand, but I may be able to fix that later, sliced about 1/2″ thick, dried, sautéed inside a large enameled cast iron pot in a little olive oil over a fairly high flame until they began to color, and then joined by one whole red Calabrian pepper from Campo Rosso Farm and several chopped red onion scallions from John D. Madura Farms, the vegetables then seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper before joined by half a pound of Sfoglini rye blend ‘trumpets’ (and some of the reserved pasta water) which had been cooked seriously al dente, the trumpets tossed with the cucumbers and onions and stirred over a low-to-moderate flame for a couple of minutes to blend the flavors and the ingredients, served finished with a drizzle of olive oil, some homemade breadcrumbs (dry crumbs of a homemade rye bread) which had been heated with a little olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, the pasta finished in shallow bowls sprinkled with chopped garlic flowers from Windfall Farms
- the wine was an Italian (Campania) white, Benito Ferrara Greco di Tufo 2014, from Garnet Wines
- the music was Haydn’s 1781 opera, ‘La fedeltà premiata’, a late 1970s recording, Antal Doráti conducting the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in the first performance of the work in almost 200 years
Because we loves porgy, I chose porgy from among the selections offered by fisherman’s family at the Union Square Greenmarket on Monday.
Soon after, I spotted some small, seductive, perfect specimens of 2 vegetables I immediately imagined combining to compliment the fish on a warm summer evening.
When I arrived home, I was reminded that I also had a perfect tomato on the windowsill.
I looked around on line, searching for results under ‘corn and fennel’, and I found this recipe, and it included tomato. I knew I would have to take liberties with some of the other ingredients, but dinner was now on the way.
- four 4-ounce Porgy fillets from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, dried, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, pan-seared, along with 3 thinly-sliced ramp bulbs from Berried Treasures Farm, over medium heat inside an oval copper pan in a bit of butter and a little olive oil, the fish basted with the contents of the pan more or less continually for about 2 minutes, using a small brush, then carefully turned over, the heat reduced to low, a cover (I used aluminum foil) placed on the pan and the filets cooked for about about another 2 minutes before the cover was removed and 2 or 3 tablespoons of mixed fresh herbs thrown in (I used mint, lovage, summer savory, thyme, tarragon, and basil this time), after which the basting was continued for about minute, or until the fish was cooked through, at which time the fillets were arranged on the 2 plates, and the juices and ramp fragments scooped up and sprinkled on top (the recipe has been slightly modified from one written by Melissa Clark)
- two small ears of organic early white sweet corn (‘Sugarbuns’) from Alewife Farm, shucked and kept whole, along with 2 small fennel bulbs from Central Valley Farm, thinly sliced crosswise, corn and fennel rolled in olive oil, pan grilled until beginning to char, both vegetables removed and allowed to cool, while a vinaigrette was prepared with olive oil, a little white wine vinegar, Aceto Cesare Bianco, from Buon Italia, an equal amount of the juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, a smaller amount of Linden flower honey, sea salt, Freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, a couple pinches of super-pungent dried Sicilian oregano from Buon Italia, part of one dried Sicilian pepperoncino, also from Buon Italia, crushed, after which the grilled corn kernels, now cut from the 2 cobs, and the grilled fennel were added to the bowl along with almost a cup of a roughly-chopped heirloom tomato from Norwich Meadows Farm, three sliced red scallions from John D. Madura Farms and some torn basil leaves from Stokes Farm, the salad served on the plates, at room temperature, garnished with chopped garlic flowers from Windfall Farms
- in order to take full advantage of the awesome juices from both fish and the vegetables spread across the plates, there were several slices from a loaf of Orwashers ‘Chardonnay Miche’ (a dark wheat-based wine bread made with Chardonnay starter from a Long Island vineyard), purchased from the baker’s stall at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on 23rd St.
- the wine was a beautiful French (Savoy) white, Philippe & Sylvain Ravier Vin de Savoie Les Abymes 2015, from Chelsea Wine Vault
- the music was Handel’s ‘Admeto, re di Tessaglia’, Il Complesso Barocco conducted by Alan Curtis, with René Jacobs, Rachel Yakar, Ulrik Cold, Rita Dams, James Bowman, Jill Gomez and Max van Egmond