It was another of those double take reactions, when the fish monger quotes you the price after you’ve chose your fish of the day: $3.50? Only $3.50, for enough excellent whole fresh fish for 2 diners?
And very nicely cleaned, as well.
They were easily and quickly prepared, and delicious; also, the bones were no problem.
So many reasons why it’s hard to persuade ourselves we should go out to dinner.
- six fresh whiting (16 ounces altogether), from P.E. & D. D. Seafood, heads already removed, stomach cavities cleaned, and, at home on the kitchen counter, all the fins cut off as best as possible, washed and drained, sprinkled with about a teaspoon, or maybe a little more, of Moroccan Fish Spice* and a little bit of salt, coated lightly with about a fourth of a cup of Union Square Greenmarket-purchased whole wheat flour from The Blew family of Oak Grove Plantation in Pittstown, N.J., arranged in a single layer on a large platter, and then about a third of a cup of olive oil was poured into a large enameled cast iron pan, fully coating the bottom, the pan heated for 2 or 3 minutes over medium heat before the whiting were placed inside without crowding, and fried, turning only once, until light to medium golden on both sides, adding a little more oil if needed (these 3-ounce whiting took 7 to 8 minutes on each side), transferred to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, arranged on the plates and served with lemon eighths
*Moroccan Fish Spice (amounts produce 3 teaspoons of spice) 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- half a pound, maybe more, of scrubbed unpeeled red thumb potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, boiled, drained, dried inside the still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, halved, rolled inside the pan with a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, tossed with purple micro radish from Windfall Farms, served garnished with more tiny radish
- purple tomatillos (10 ounces) from Norwich Meadows Farm, chopped, tossed in a little olive oil along with one very small sliced red onion from Norwich Meadows Farm, fresh chopped oregano from from Rise & Root Farm, fresh basil off of a live plant from Stokes Farm, organic California lemon zest and juice from Whole Foods Market, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a generous pinch of fenugreek
- the wine was an Italian (Piedmont) white, Arneis ‘Moda Veja’, Gallino 2016, from Astor Wines
- the music was by Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville (1711-1772), his 1742 pastorale héroïque in 5 acts and a prologue, ‘Isbé’, György Vashegyiby conducting the Orfeo Orchestra and the Purcell Choir