With its gorgeous pink/red skin, I find it difficult to avoid bringing Sea perch home whenever I see it at a fish seller’s stall in Union Square, especially since it has so many other virtues, beginning with excellent flavor and texture, and including ease of preparation, at least as I have come to know it.
The radishes had come from the Greenmarket a full 2 weeks before and still tasted great. They are roots, and apparently, not knowing when I would remember they were there, I had wrapped them carefully enough to extend their freshness.
The green vegetable which we enjoyed, described by the people who raised and sold it in the Greenmarket on Monday as ‘overwintered broccoli rabe’, is actually, and very surprisingly, a seasonal vegetable, at least in this new age of high tunnels and artisanal farming to supply fussy city people.
- four 4-ounce sea perch fillets from American Seafood Company, brushed with olive oil and some chopped wild garlic from Lani’s Farm, a bit of crushed dried orange-golden habanada pepper, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then broiled 4 inches from the flames for about 4 minutes until the skin was crisp and the fish cooked through, sauced with a bit of olive oil in which one large rinsed, filleted salted anchovy from Buon Italia had been gently heated until it had fallen apart, the fish finished on the 2 plates with a drizzle of sweet local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, and a small number of cut chives from Phillips Farm
here an image of the radishes about to go into the oven
- two bunches of breakfast radishes from Eckerton Hill Farm, scrubbed, trimmed, tossed with olive oil, salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and branches of thyme from Eckerton Hill Farm, roasted at 375º for about 20 minutes on a medium-size Pampered Chef pan with, garnished on the plates with a little red wasabi micro radish from two Guys from Woodbridge
- ‘overwintered broccoli rabe’ from Lani’s Farm, wilted with olive oil in which two lightly-crushed and halved garlic cloves John D. Madura Farm had been heated until beginning to color, finished with salt, freshly-ground pepper, a small amount of crushed dried chili (peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia), and drizzled with more olive oil
- the wine was a California (Napa) white, Scott Peterson S.P. Drummer Napa Chardonnay 2015
- the music was Erwin Schulhoff’s 1932 opera, ‘Flamen’, John Mauceri conducting the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
It’s a great fish, and this is a great recipe, especially because it encourages some finely-drawn variations, none of which I think should be considered ‘the standard’.
In honor of these 2 noble fillets, and the delicate condiments with which I decided to grace them, I also added a couple of subtle elements to the yeoman vegetable which accompanied them, Brussels sprouts, which normally, but not always, goes it pretty much alone around here.
Wild garlic, a harbinger of spring (the season had in fact officially arrived that morning) seems designed to go with this wonderful dish.
- two pollock fillets (9 ounces each) purchased from Carl Karlin of P.E. & D.D. Seafood in the Union Square Greenmarket, rinsed, dried, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, placed inside a buttered baking dish, skin side down, spread with a mixture of soft butter, zest from a local sweet lemon from David Tifford of Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, slices of wild garlic (bulb and stem) from Lani’s Farm, and a large pinch of crushed orange/gold home-dried Habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm (acquired fresh last season), the fish baked for about 15 minutes at 350º, removed to 2 plates, the cooking juices poured over the top, and a teaspoon of Mediterranean organic wild capers in brine (from a Providence, Rhode Island distributor) rinsed, drained and dried, along with the oil in which they had earlier been heated briefly, the pollock finished with a garnish of cut chives from Phillips Farm
- Brussels Sprouts from Migliorelli Farm, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, four unpeeled cloves of garlic from John D. Madura Farm (2 medium, 2 small), a pinch of a crushed dried chili (peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia), then spread, not touching each other, onto a large, well-seasoned Pampered Chef oven pan, roasted in at 385º (splitting the difference between the ideal temperature for the pollock and the sprouts) for about 20 minutes until very slightly browned and very slightly crisp on the outside, finished with a squeeze of a local sweet lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island
- the wine was a New Zealand (Awatere Valley, Marlborough) white, Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2016,from Phillipe Wine
- the music was Handel’s early (1709) opera, ‘Agrippina’, René Jacobs directing the Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
It’s like game. It’s very much like game, both footed and winged. For most people however, it’s far more accessible. Very easy to find, it’s also very easy to prepare.
We love duck.
We also love roots and greens – and offbeat micro flavorings too.
I’ve now introduced the meal we enjoyed last night.
- one 12-ounce duck breast from Hudson Valley Duck Farm, the fatty side scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife, the entire breast then sprinkled top and bottom with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a little turbinado sugar (in our sugar bowl, infused over a very long time with a whole vanilla bean), the duck left standing for 30 or 45 minutes before it was pan-fried over medium heat, first the fatty side down, in a tiny bit of olive oil, draining the oil part of the way through [to be strained and used in cooking later, if desired], turned over half way through, removed when medium rare (cut into 2 portions to check that the center is of the right doneness, which means no more than medium rare), left to sit for several minutes before finishing it with a drizzle of sweet local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island and drops of a very good Campania olive oil, Lamparelli O.R.O., then scattered with some red wasabi micro radish from two Guys from Woodbridge [NOTE: the tenderloin would normally have been removed from the breast before it was marinated, but seasoned as the rest of the breast, and fried very briefly near the end of the time the bulk of the meat was cooking, dividing it into two parts and tucking them under the rest of the breast on the plates, but this time I could not find a tenderloin to remove]
- banana fingerling potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm and ‘Magic Molly‘ purple fingerlings from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm (I wanted to use the purple potatoes but didn’t have enough, so I added the golden ones, and it worked out perfectly, for the aesthetic and the taste), tossed in a bowl with one sliced smallish red onion from Norwich Meadows Farm, a little olive oil, a generous amount of rosemary leaves from Eataly, more than a pinch of dark home-dried Habanada pepper, salt, and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, then spread onto a large well-seasoned Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan, roasted at 374-400º for about 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes were cooked through and the onion a little crispy
- spinach from John D Madura Farm, washed in several changes of water, drained, gently wilted (that is, not reduced too far) inside a large enameled cast iron pot in a little olive oil in which one two cloves of garlic from John D. Madura Farm, halved or quartered, had first been allowed to sweat, then seasoned with salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a little crushed dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero) from Buon Italia, drizzled with olive oil and a little sweet loca lemon juice from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island
This is the duck breast just before it went into the hot pan.
And this is the pan of seasoned and herbed potatoes and onion just before it went into the hot oven.
[the CD cover art is ‘La mano ubbidisce all’intelletto‘ [the hand obeys the intellect] (1983) oil on canvas, by Carlo Maria Mariani, an Italian exponent of Anacronismo and Pittura Colta]
The Bach cantata we’d picked first didn’t quite have the zip we were looking for in our usual sacred early Sunday music, so we switched to a Heinichen mass.
I also introduced something fairly new to the usual Sunday egg formula, sorrel.
Otherwise the ingredients, described pretty much willy-nilly, were: