When you go to the fish section of a grocery store, even the one at Whole Foods, you can pretty much expect to find the same fish whether you’re in Montana or Maine and whether it’s January or June: salmon, halibut, cod…
But when you buy your fish at the farmers market, the selection of the day all depends on your fisherman’s haul. This week, Capt. Rick of Pura Vida Fishery caught a ridiculous amount of porgy (also known as sea bream). They were practically jumping onto the boat. If you’ve never tried this fish, which local fishmongers call the ‘snapper of the Hamptons” you should pick some up this weekend. It’s one of those workhorse, full-flavored and flaky fish that shines when baked.
Here’s a recipe from one of my favorite Brit chefs – dame Delia Smith:
1 whole sea bream, weighing 1¼-1½ lbs, (scaled and cleaned – just like the Captain sells them)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced into 2-inch strips
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 oz tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato purée
½ oz pitted black olives
1 heaped tablespoon capers
1 rounded tablespoon fresh chopped oregano (or basil would work, too)
2 oz (50 g) cherry tomatoes, left whole and unpeeled salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 375F,
First of all wipe the fish with some kitchen paper, then make three diagonal cuts across it (on both sides) and brush lightly with a little oil. Season well with salt and freshly-milled black pepper, then place it in a shallow roasting tin and transfer it to the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a medium-sized frying-pan, then add the shallots and pepper and soften then over a medium heat for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking for another couple of minutes. Next add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, olives and capers, and sprinkle in the oregano and a seasoning of salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or so – giving it all a stir now and then – and after that add the whole cherry tomatoes, and continue cooking until the cherry tomatoes have softened but not lost their shape.
After 20 minutes check to see if the fish is cooked – the flesh should be opaque and firm – or give it a further five minutes if necessary. To serve, divide the fish slices, the top fillet for one person, then remove the backbone and serve the bottom fillet for the other.
Spoon the sauce over and serve with new potatoes.
We are well into June, so please look for beets, carrots and sugar snap peas coming to market.
Also: Stone Barns is now bringing some gorgeous field flower bouquets should have you any special graduations or parties to go to this weekend. They are also bringing a small selection of herbal teas.
Renee’s Jams will be bringing some new jams like white chocolate and raspberry and blueberry cinnamon jam.
Oh, and Linzi Fastiggi from Spice Revolution will be here, too. No doubt she’ll be brimming with ideas on how to “spice up” your sea bream.
See you at the market!
Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director