fried blowfish; tomatillo-tomato-shallot-fennel-lovage salsa

I used to be puzzled by the people who get so excited about the arrival of blowfish in the local fish market (in the big piscivore picture, their numbers may not be large, but it always seemed like I was the only one who didn’t get it).

I get it now.

As I wrote last September, they taste at least a bit “like fried perch”, and so evoke one of the best foods I remember from the midwest where I grew up.

And then there was a (cool) salsa.

The side dish was put together mixing some oddments, a few herbs, and several vegetables, each in a quantity not sufficient to use by itself. As such it was something of a mongrel, but like most mixed breeds, it turned out to be a very good mix. And the colors made a great presentation.

  • twelve blowfish tails (a total of 13 ounces) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, dredged in about a quarter to a third of a cup of local North Country Farms Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour seasoned with plenty of sea salt and fresh-ground Tellicherry pepper, pan-fried in olive oil (in depth, about an eighth to a quarter of an inch) inside a very large heavy cast iron pan, turning over once (cooking about 2 minutes on each side, or until they had turned golden), served with wedges of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, and garnished with micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge,  [NOTE: the next time I make this dish I may try adding some ground mustard seed to the flour, since it had been such a great addition to this monkfish preparation]
  • a bright and refreshing salsa composed of yellow tomatillo from from Oak Grove Plantation, sliced several times horizontally, one green heirloom, chopped roughly, and 6 miniature orange plum-shaped tomatoes, halved, both the heirloom and ‘cherry’ fruits from Eckerton Hill Farm, several chopped stems of a young fennel bulb – and some of the chopped fronds – from Alewife Farm, 3 small chopped spring shallots, also from Alewife Farm, chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm, a little olive oil, sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, lemon juice, a big pinch of dried fenugreek that I had obtained Nirmala Gupta’s ‘Bombay Emerald Chutney Company‘ at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on 23rd Street, the mix arranged on the plates and garnished with nasturtium blossoms from Windfall Farms
  • the wine was an American (New Mexico) sparkling, Gruet Brut
  • the music was the last act of Handel’s 1724 opera (the 1731 version),’Tamerlano’, Riccardo Minasi conducting Il Pomo d’Oro, with Xavier Sabata in the title role (we had listened to only the first two acts during a meal last week)