porgy on a tomato/olive/herb salsa; celtuce, lovage, pinoli

My recipe says ‘sea bream’ but my fish monger says ‘porgy’. They’re both right, as it turns out.

  • their presentation began with a salsa prepared by heating 3 tablespoons of a Portuguese house olive oil from Whole Foods Market inside a vintage Corning  Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot pot over a gentle flame, adding 5 ounces of tomatoes, a mix of red grape tomatoes from Kernan Farms and golden cherry tomatoes from Alex’s Tomato Farm, and 2 ounces or so of pitted whole kalamata olives from Whole Foods Market, seasoning the mix with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, stirring for a minute or 2, the pan set aside to cool, and some chopped fresh lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge and an equal amount of chopped fresh spicy oregano leaves from Windfall Farms (several tablespoons altogether) were, reserving some for garnish, stirred into the salsa, the juice of half of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market added and the salsa stirred once again before being set aside while the fish was prepared
  • four 3 and a half-ounce porgy fillets from P.E & D.D. Seafood, their skin slashed with a very sharp knife in 2 or 3 places each, placed, skin side down, in a little very hot olive oil inside a large rectangular enameled cast iron pan sitting over a high flame, the flesh side of the fish seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, cooked for 2 or 3 minutes until the flesh was dark golden and the skin crisp’, the fillets turned over, cooked on the other side for 1 minute, basting with the oil in the pan, if any, until the fillets were just cooked through, arranged on the plates on top of the salsa described above, garnished with micro scallion from Two Guys from Woodbridge

I saw these bunches of celtuce (aka ‘stem lettuce’ or ‘asparagus lettuce’) in the market that same afternoon. In fact I had a choice of 2 inside Lani’s Farm tent. One was more green than the other, and looked like what I would expect to find. Its sign read, I think, only, ‘celtuce’. The other was labelled, ‘Purple Sword celtuce’. I asked the helper near the tables in that area of the stall which one I should pick. He gave it a thought for a couple seconds, then replied that I should probably go for the latter, adding, before I could ask why, that, because it was purple, it would be richer in antioxidants. I really have no idea what that means, but I generally trust the farmers.