No, not all white fish tastes the same. Like us, the Tilefish loves crab and lobster, which may help to explain why we love Tilefish. But, contrary to what some people say or write about it, while the flesh is lean, tender and particularly sweet, no one will mistake it for crab or lobster; more like cod that’s gone to heaven.
The vegetables accompanying the fish included a beautiful, very tender bouquet of collards I had bought a few days before, plus one ‘fluke’: ten baby ‘Papa Chaucha’, pressed into my hand that afternoon by one of my favorite farmers; both were Greenmarket finds of course. They were delicious; earthy and creamy, I’m definitely going back for more next week.
NOTE: ‘Papa Chaucha’ [‘ancient potato’] is a name which I believe covers all of the ancient breeds of potato, originally found all over Central and South America, although the Andes may be a more specific geography for these particular [cultivars?]. Franca’s Berried Treasures stall sign described her ‘Papa Chaucha’ (she had both these very small examples, and some larger) as Ecuadorean, added that the seed was given to her by one of the people who works with Dave Tifford of Fantastic Gardens of Long Island on one of his visits, and asked her customers for feedback.
- the basic Tilefish recipe, which I’ve used on more than one occasion, is this one from Melissa Clark, in which she generously suggests using any number of various herbs and several allium possibilities; I used one 16-ounce tilefish fillet from Pura Vida, halved, well-dried, seasoned, placed it in several tablespoons of butter melted inside my new/old copper gratin pan, basted it with sliced young leeks from Ryder Farm (rather than scallions specified in the recipe, which I did not have) and, in the end, more than half a dozen different of the fresh herbs I did have (all from Greenmarket farmers), and finished with lemon juice
- a very few tiny ‘Papa Chaucha’ from Berried Treasures, boiled in salted water in a small pot, drained, dried in the same, still-warm pot, seasoned with salt and pepper, and rolled in butter
- some sweet, tender collard greens from Norwich Meadows Farm, cut as a rough chiffonade, then braised in a heavy pot in which slightly-crushed garlic from Phillips Farm had first been heated in some olive oil
- the wine was an Oregon white, A to Z Oregon Chardonnay 2013 (note that the link is to a 2014 vintage)
- the music was Modest Mussorgsky, ‘Boris Godounov’, Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Theater Orchestera and the Kirov Chorus (all of it)