Friday, August 6, 2010

A few frying moments with Morone Saxatilis




There are still a few glazes waiting to be mixed out in the studio for next week's firing. But ...
My friend Brenda Horrigan (an occasional commenter on this blog) traded me a couple of big fillets of striped bass this morning for some freshly dug hardshell clams, so I had to make something from the fish. I decided to steam one big fillet in white wine and garlic, then break it up and combine it with mashed potato, egg, celery, red pepper, powdered green chile and chopped scallions into bite-size fish cakes. Then I spent about an hour frying the little things in hot olive oil.
A couple of minutes on one side, then a couple on the other and you're done. They'll be consumed at a party this weekend at the home of some friends. With wine and some kind of hot sauce.
This time of year on Cape Cod, there is no excuse for not eating locally. Fish and shellfish from the waters around the Cape; corn, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, squash, lettuce, greens of all kinds, sometimes lamb, all from the gardens and farms around the area.
We are blessed particularly by the striped bass (Morone Saxatilis) and the bluefish, both of whom migrate to these waters in the spring from down the coast off the Carolinas. The striper, which can grow to more than 70 pounds, was in serious trouble a few years ago. Its spawning grounds in the waters of the Hudson River and Chesapeake Bay were polluted. Also, fishermen were taking small stripers before they could grow up and perpetuate the species. Today, with cleaner waters and a strict minimum size limit, stripers are abundant. The fillet I cooked this morning, from a fish caught by Brenda's father, probably came from a 35-pounder.
There is a great book called "Striper" about the striped bass and the bass fishery, by the late and wonderful writer John T. Cole. John fished for stripers when he was a young man with a commercial crew from Long Island, NY. He went on to edit Maine Times and write more books. A great writer, writing about a great fish.
Now, back to mixing glaze.

17 comments:

imagine said...

Forget pots and turn to cooking.
I feel hungry just looking at that picture.
To think that you have fresh fish on your doorstep is
incredible, I really envy you.
You don't have any empty buildings near you waiting to become galleries, do you?
If so I'm packing now.

cindy shake said...

MMMM! OMG that photo made me hungry too and you've inspired me! I'm thinking of using your idea and substituting Salmon -eating local this time of year in the far north is a wonderful thing to do as well ;o)

cookingwithgas said...

oh- those look good enough to eat!
Don't you love summer foods- the glazes can wait when there is food!
and.... don't forget to send some of those fish back....

Tracey Broome said...

I'm drooling! You should be writing a cook book, I can almost smell those things down here, yum, I'm hungry now!
Being a coastal girl I love anything related to eating seafood :)

Hollis Engley said...

I think I just hit a vein of hungry art people.

ang said...

yeh man, luckily ive just had breaky or i'd be drooling too...very inspiring!!

Alex Matisse said...

One of the things I miss most about MA is striper fishing on the cape. I would go out all night when I was a teenager and my Dad would rent a place out in Truro. There is nothing in the world like pulling in a big bass out of the surf. Ill be up there in a week but I bet the mung will be in on the outer beaches.

Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, guys. Fish cakes tonight. Alex, they're running now, so you ought to be able to pull in a few. Come on up to Vineyard Sound if you can't find them in Truro.

MVBLH said...

Wow and here I was feeling all pleased w/myself rubbing the remaining striper w/a southwest spice blend (cumin, coriander, chile molido, garlic, salt, olive oil) and throwing it on the grill. What you did was a REAL labor of fish-love. gonna try that out with the few remaining stripers. Would it work with the freezer full of bluefish Dad left me with?

Hollis Engley said...

Sure, Brenda, it would work with bluefish just fine. Pretty much any fish. But your fish tacos sound pretty damn good, too.

Peter said...

Yum! I think you have probably inspired a rush of desperate, crazed, and salivating potters to your part of the country with that description of summer abundance! I hope your wine cellar is full, and your freezer well stocked! Just kidding... almost! It's winter in my part of the world, snow on the higher hills, and nothing growing in the garden... Have mercy! I may have to open a can of sardines!

Hollis Engley said...

Hey, Peter, sardines are good and good for you.

老陆 said...

Poverty tries friends...................................................................

paul jessop said...

it made me want to eat them and I don't even eat fish. Just sat having breakfast Toast and a third cup of tea before heading down to the workshop.

Hollis Engley said...

Tea and toast ain't bad, Paul. A little marmalade, perhaps?

janet said...

I know first hand that your fish cakes are as tasty as they are beautiful

Hollis Engley said...

Sure, Janet. But do you prefer the fish cakes to the pots?