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Chefs experiment with less well known fish

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#1 Rail Paul

Rail Paul

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 11:40 AM

The WSJ has an article about the efforts to deliver sustainable fish to dining room tables. One problem is many of these fish taste like, well, fish. That's a problem for people who like their fish deep fried or basking in butter.

Some fish, like pompano, are "green marketed" according to Rebecca Charles. Emphasize its green cred, and its extensive supply.

During the Gulf spill months, hearty little numbers like North Carolina rockfish took the place of redfish at Café Atchafalaya, a New Orleans restaurant known for its sautéed redfish and crawfish-stuffed flounder. Its co-owner, Tony Tocco, also used drum in place of redfish (a relative of the drum family); drum still remained available from Mississippi aquaculture farms during the spill. Mr. Flynn said he is seeing highly edible species such as golden tilefish, tripletail and escolar entering menus more often.

At AltaMare, a new Miami Beach, Fla., hotspot known for its creative fish selections, the kitchen serves the local hero Florida grouper but recently added to its regular menu sheepshead, as "an amusement, and how much I like it," said its chef Simon Stojanovic, via e-mail. The buck-toothed fish is now selling as well as the more readily known red snapper.

And nearby, at Area 31 bistro in Miami, cuttlefish—less of a "fish" than a sweet-tasting member of the squid family—is cooked medium rare, cut into strips and paired with a flatiron steak, a sustainable variation of surf and turf.

Downtown Manhattan's Pearl Oyster Bar—famous for kicking off the national lobster-roll craze—has had recent success with both the "ray" fish known as skate, as well as whole pompano, familiar almost solely to seafood purists.



Texture: Very white meat, firm
Tastes like: Crabmeat, small grouper and drum
Preparation: Pan-fried, broiled, sautéed, grilled whole.


Texture: Darkish meat, a lean fish
Tastes like: Bluefish; full-flavored,
Preparation: Smoked, wood-grilled with equally robust sauces.


Texture: Firm, meaty
Tastes like: A fat grouper or a red snapper; mild in flavor
Preparation: Sautéed, grilled, blackened.


Texture: Reasonably delicate,
medium flake, snowy white
Tastes like: Tilapia; medium-flavor
Preparation: Blackened, sautéed.


Texture: Firm, pinkish-white flesh; a solid filet
Tastes like: Lobster, grouper; mild-flavored, moist, succulent
Preparation: Sautéed, blackened.


Texture: Smooth-bodied, very firm white meat, reasonably high in fat, large flake
Tastes like: Swordfish
Preparation: Grilled, poached, baked, blackened.


Texture: Firm, thick filet with white meat
Tastes like: Rich but mild flavor; high in oil content
Preparation: Broiled, sautéed, baked in parchment paper (en papillote).


Texture: Firm consistency, white filet
Tastes like: Red snapper;
sweet and nutty
Preparation: Baked, fried.


Texture: Meaty and chewy, like calamari
Tastes like: Squid; lighter than grilled octopus
Preparation: Grilled in strips; marinated, batter-fried.


Texture: Reasonably delicate (consumes oysters)
Tastes like: Tilapia, cod, redfish; very mild
Preparation: Any way you can think of.

“It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones. ”
Niccolò Machiavelli