Good morning to all of our beloved friends and clients who might be wondering... Does a Fishmonger like to fish? This is probably the most common question asked of me along with, is this fish fresh? And how did you get so thick eating mostly fish?
To which I answer, Yes and I have the appetite of a Great White Shark but I just don't swim around that much.
Seriously though, I do go fishing every now and then and quite frankly as long as I have ample libation and a good cigar, I usually catch what I came for, which is a buzz. That said, this past week my lovely bride informed me that she had booked an "Offshore" fishing excursion for us. I was kind of excited at the prospect of eating her famous Peppers and Egg Sandwiches and sipping Ice cold beer on the open ocean. My enthusiasm quickly faded as we boarded this clearly commercial vessel and saw the accommodations were less than luxurious. I'm not kidding, a hard wooden bench which could not seat all of us on the boat and a commode that made an outhouse seem swanky was my introduction to this ancient vessel from hell. It's then and I swear I'm not making this up, the captain announced to us that the bathroom could not handle "bombs" and that you might want to use the land facilities before we "shove off". It was at that moment I felt a deep empathy for my ancestors who made the hellacious boat ride to America in Steerage. As we left the dock, I thought to myself, stop being such a baby and man-up but as we tossed and slammed on the waves sitting on a box that I believe was over the engine I thought to myself... how long can this be... three hours my wife said... I began to cry.
After we reached our "spot" I have to admit the fishing was great but I was envious of my bride when she hooked into a massive Bonito that almost pulled her off the boat... I'm not kidding. No, I wasn't jealous she caught the biggest fish, I was envious that the fish might have pulled her into the peaceful depths of the ocean floor, avoiding the 3 hour hell ride home... Please take me oh mighty Neptune.
Well, it's safe to say that one, I will never complain about the price of fish... These men and women work their Basses off to provide us with the bounties of the deep. And two, I promise to stay on land and be your Humble Fishmonger as long as you will have me. But enough of that, let's light up the grills for this weekend's gorgeous weather and try Barbecued Tuna and Tomatoes with a Harissa Dressing & Grilled Whole Branzino with a Turkish Ezme (Tomato & Chili Salsa). These recipes not only feature some of my favorite fish but utilize the bounty of produce this time of the year provides.
Today's Featured Recipes Created With Love for You...
Barbecued Tuna and Tomatoes with a Harissa Dressing Serves 4
Step one; light the fuse (the grill),
Step two; get the T&T (Tuna and Tomatoes)
Step three; witness a culinary explosion of bold flavors that annihilates boring dinners forever.
Step four; grill bread to sop up the juicy charred casualties.
For the Tuna
4 Sushi Grade Tuna steaks 1 inch thick 6 to 8 ounces each... I like my Tuna Rare should you like yours well-done please know that I still love and pray for you.
For the Marinade
½ cup of coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 shallots chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of Harissa (available at Metro and all Middle Eastern Bazaars)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
For the Tomatoes
3 Large Ripe but Firm tomatoes (Yeah...We are Fully in Tomato Season!) sliced ½ inch thick.
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil for brushing
How it's done
Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a small food processor or blender and "whizz" until smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place Tuna in a re-sealable bag and pour half the marinade into the bag and let the fish marinate on the counter for 20 minutes. (Can be marinated in the fridge for up to 2 hours but needs to come to room temp before grilling)
Prepare your charcoal or preheat your gas grill to high heat.
Place the tomato slices on a plate and brush with the olive oil and season with the paprika, cumin and salt.
Grill the tomatoes for 1 to 2 minutes per side and transfer to a serving platter and set aside.
Next remove the Tuna steaks from the marinade and season with a little more salt and pepper and grill for about 3 minutes per side for rare and 5 min per side for medium. If you like your Tuna well done, again, please know, I'm praying for you.
To serve, transfer the Tuna Steaks to the platter with the grilled tomatoes and spoon over the reserved marinade.
Garnish with lemon wedges and get that bread on the grill... you got some sopping up to do little chef. Could you achieve these bold sexy flavors without all of the explosions, sure but it requires far more wine.
Grilled Whole Branzino with a Turkish Ezme (Tomato & Chili Salsa) Serves 4
No "Ezme" is not a skin condition but a flavorful Turkish Salsa served best with Grilled Delights or warmed pita. That said, you might itch for it after your first taste.
2 Whole Branzino 1½ pounds each scaled, gutted and dried out with a paper towel - Remember a Metro Fishmonger lives for such a task... let them find their bliss
1 lemon sliced
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
For the Marinade:
2 tablespoons of Harissa Paste (Moroccan spicy pepper paste... good on friends)
4 cloves of garlic crushed
3 tablespoons of olive oil
The finely grated zest of 1 lemon
For the Ezme (Tomato & Chili Sauce)
4 Large Tomatoes seeded and finely chopped (Jersey Tomatoes Only!)
4 small scallions finely chopped
1 clove of garlic crushed and finely minced
1 Sweet Red Pepper seeded and very finely chopped
1 Pickled Jalapeño pepper finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon of Tomato paste
2 teaspoons of Pomegranate molasses (found at All Metro Seafood Locations)
The juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
How it's done
Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl until mixed well.
Place the fish in a glass baking dish and pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
Next, rub that marinade on the fish, both inside and out.
Place the parsley and lemon slices in the chest cavity of the fish; cover the fish with plastic wrap and let the fish marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
While the fish is marinating, make the Ezme by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl; Season to taste with salt and lemon juice and place in the refrigerator.
Prepare charcoal or preheat grill to medium heat (400° degrees)
Remove the Branzino from the baking dish and season both sides of the fish with a little more salt.
Grill the fish on the medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes per side or until the meat is just opaque when fork tested.
To serve, transfer the fish to a large serving platter and garnish with lemon wedges.
Serve the Ezme with the fish and feel free to have warmed pita on hand to make little Branzino Ezme mouth bombs... Boom!