Looking north from Fire Island

Looking north from Fire Island
Continuing the cooking articles I write every summer

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Grilled Marinated Whole Fish

Four perfect silver skinned fish showed up in my outdoor fridge last night. Fat, slimy fresh, red gills, proof of freshness, but no note. No matter; I knew Jason left them. He loves to go fishing, and dropped off some of his catch for me. He did some carpentry and electricasl work for me, but we became friends. You know right away when you click with somebody. Guys like him are rare.
But how to cook ‘em? First they had to be scaled. I forgot how messy a job that is, how many scales a small fish can have. The scaling and rinsing done over a strainer in the kitchen sink made it easy to dispatch them. You need to massage the fish to be sure they are all clean.
I wanted to keep things simple, let the fish take center stage, and let the cook--that's me, get out of the way. You really have to trust your ingredients--and yourself, to do that.
I have herbs growing all over the place here. Wild bay, rosemary, thyme, lavender, basil and mint. There are many others but just these were going into the fish. After peeling a few inches of lemon zest, I chopped up a few cloves of garlic, the herbs (thyme, rosemary, basil, mint, lavender, bay leaves), sea salt, olive oil, a generous amount of chopped parsley, and made a paste of them. I cut three gashes in the sides of each fish, stuffing the herb paste into each cut. Then they got a chance to rest while I roasted some corn. This month’s corn here has been sweeter than I ever remembered. Butter and salt only. Period.
Looking back I know I had the fire too high. The skin stuck to the grill in places, nevertheless the fish emerged perfectly moist, delicious. There were flavorful crispy parts I’d usually throw out but they tasted too good. Next time more oil on the fish, and the grill. I did oil the grill, but perhaps not enough. A lower fire would give me more control. I hope it will also produce that crispy, tasty skin. So much food, too much food. I decided to keep some for tomorrow, and made a marinade with sea salt, pepper, EVOO. lemon juice, red wine vinegar. I added some more bruised bay leaves. I gave it a mix around, and poured it over the fish. Next day friend Gary Sullivan pays a visit. We're both hungry. So out of the fridge, I nuked them on LOW power, very slightly warmed, and served them. Like kids, we ate them with our hands. Total perfection. Bliss.

1 comment:

Larry William said...

Michael,
I enjoyed the blog but wonder if you have any inspiration to share with me regarding any recipe or recipes to use the quince fruits I have from my tree.
P.S.- We met at my brother Dan's memorial.