grilled whole porgy, mint, chive, parsley, lemon; red kale

I don’t often cook a whole fish. I’m very comfortable with cooking these wonderful creatures, but a whole fish still seems a little scary. Actually, after the experience of this meal, I realize that it’s the process of filleting that may be the most frightening part.

There’s also the thing about how I ended up cooking it: While I admit that I probably should have broiled this excellent porgy, and my reason for not doing so may have been irrational, I just didn’t feel comfortable about leaving it that far out of sight during what I still regard as a very sensitive period in the cooking process.

In the end the fish was totally wonderful, even if the presentation, thanks to my inexperience, was something less than I had hoped for.


I’ve included this less-than-exciting picture of the red kale here mostly as testimonial to the remarkable husbandry our local farmers: We are now in January and I’m still able to bring home at least a limited variety of fresh green vegetables. This member of the noble and enormous family Brassicaceae was purchased January 13, and it may be at least as remarkable for having stayed in shape in our refrigerator for a full week after that.

  • one cleaned whole 25-ounce porgy (sparidae, pogy, pagrus, mishcup, sea bream, sheepshead, scup, orata, Seebrassen, dorade, besugo, or havsruda, among other appellations) from Pure Vida Seafood, washed and dried, tail and fins removed, head left on, the cavity stuffed with thin slices of lemon and parsley sprigs, the body coated with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, pan grilled in a long cast iron pan over medium-high flame[s], turning once, fora bout 17 minutes, removed and filleted, each section arranged on a plate, sprinkled with chopped mint and parsley from Eataly and scissored chive from Two Guys from Woodbridge, drizzled with olive oil and a little more lemon juice
  • red kale from Norwich Meadows Farm, sautéed in olive oil in which 2 bruised and halved garlic cloves from Tamarack Hollow Farm had first been allowed to sweat and barely begin to brown, the greens seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little more olive oil
  • the wine was a Portuguese (Dão) white, Quinta dos Roques Encruzado, Dão 2014, from Astor Wines
  • the music was Alfred Schnittke’s ‘Concerto Grosso for Cello No. 2, with Torleif Thedéen, cello, Lev Markiz conducting the Malmö Symphony Orchestra