When I arrived at the fish stand in the Greenmarket on Saturday there was only one remaining fillet of Blackfish (Eastern Long Island- and Rhode Island-speak: ‘Tautog’). It’s one of my favorite fishes, but this piece was a little smaller than I would normally prefer for the two of us.
Still, noticing that I had recently cooked all of the other local seafood selections available, I decided to ask for it anyway. I thought of serving an appetizer using a few local Hudson Valley shrimp from Jean Claude Frajmund’s Eco Shrimp Garden market stall, just steps away, if his stock had not yet been exhausted.
Two fish courses would complicate the dinner preparations, but I had been feeling pretty confident about my modest skills lately.
I got the shrimp.
It all turned out even better than I might have expected. The only problem was the lateness of the hour when it was finally served (I still have to work on that).
- one teaspoon of chopped garlic from Lucky Dog Organic Farm Farm heated inside a medium cast iron pan over a very low flame until the garlic had colored nicely, then part of one dried dark no-heat Habanada pepper added and pushed around with the garlic, followed by a pinch of Spanish saffron (DO La Mancha from Antonio Sotos), one small whole dried local chipotle pepper from Northshire Farms in the Union Square Greenmarket (not punctured, and left whole) and less than half of teaspoon of freshly-ground cumin seed added, all stirred for a minute or two, after which 6 large, very fresh local whole farmed shrimp from our local Hudson River Valley (Newburgh) supplier of small crustaceans, Eco Shrimp Garden, were added (I had cut them all along their backs, from head to tail, ahead of time, to ease their shelling once they were served), seasoned with salt and pepper, the heat brought up a bit and the shrimp cooked until firm while turned twice, served on 2 plates with a generous squeeze of local lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, finished micro fennel from Windfall Farms [both the dried Habanada and the micro fennel are my own additions to Mark Bittman’s simple, delicious recipe]
- four Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, warmed in a little olive oil along with stems of wild garlic from Lani’s Farm, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, mixed with a generous amount of chopped thyme from Eataly
I was able to prepare all the ingredients for the main course before beginning to cook the first, so there was relatively short intermission between the them.
- one beautiful, very fresh 11-ounce fillet of Blackfish/Tautog from Seatuck Fish Company, halved, then prepared mostly as described in this recipe by Melissa Clark, but necessarily substituting a mix of Nigerian cayenne pepper and Spanish paprika (picante) for the Aleppo Syrian red pepper it specified, and spooning a small amount of a savory tomato mix from a previous meal at the very end; the fresh sage was from S. & S.O. Produce Farm; the olives were from Whole Foods Market; and the lemon juice from a sweet local fruit from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island
- a mix of 3 varieties of potatoes, because I wanted to keep enough of each of them for another time, all from Greenmarket farmers (Carolas from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, small Red Norlands from Berried treasure, and ‘blue potatoes’ from Norwich Meadows Farm) boiled in a vintage medium-size clear pyrex pan, drained, dried in the same pan, cut into smaller pieces, seasoned with Maldon salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, then rolled, still in the pan, with a bit of olive oil and both the bulbs and greens of a few ramps from Violet Hill Farm
- the wine through both courses was a California (Lodi) white, made with traditional Portuguese grapes, Ana Diogo-Draper Lodi Verdelho 2016, from Naked Wines
There was actually a dessert this time.
- scoops of a hand-packed vanilla gelato, from Eataly, made in-house, sprinkled with chopped candied ginger from Whole Foods Market