8/10/12 Bluefish are an incredibly quick and aggressive gamefish found in droves in our local waters when the summer starts to heat up. Whether they are the tiny snapper blues, a half a foot in size, or the big horses, a couple of feet in length, they are ferocious and fearless. With their razor-sharp teeth and lust for blood, as well as their huge numbers in our waters, I often laugh when I see all the press and hooplah being dedicated to the Great Whites, when in reality we’d be much more likely to get bitten by a bluefish. Alas, unless Steven Spielberg is planning on doing a movie on the bluefish, our fear of the ocean waters will continue to be dominated by visions of shark fins slicing through the surf.
With that said, I’m not sure if some of our SOSSEXI members might not be as quick and aggressive as our local bluefish. Case in point was last Friday when I raced over to The Roman Table to pick up my fish share. I had been working on some writing assignments all week, and one of my favorite places to go is the Scituate Lighthouse Beach. Each day I would set up my chair right on the rocks where the long and short jetties intersect. Every time I would look up from my computer, I would be tortured with the site of birds constantly working the water surface inside the harbor and all the way out in front of First Cliff. The presence of the birds indicates lots of bait in the water, and lots of bait meant bigger fish like blues and stripers.
Since I had work to do, I deliberately chose to leave my fishing rod at home. While my fishing friends caught bluefish all week long, I concocted a plan to get over to The Roman Table and snap up the bluefish I was sure would be in the coolers. Despite arriving by half-past three, I was too late. Like a bluefish blitz, when a school will swarm in and wreak havoc on a hapless bait ball of tinker mackerel or peanut bunker then leave a bloody trail in its wake before disappearing into the deep, the cooler containing beautiful bags of blue fillets held nothing but ice. The pollock I got was delicious, but I envy the lucky few with the bluefish.
Now I realize there are some readers who are curling their lips in disgust reading this. Bluefish is a horribly misunderstood culinary fish. Many people think it is “too oily” or “too fishy,” and they would be right. We’ve all received the bag of bluefish from a well-meaning neighbor eager to share his day’s catch, and after the profuse thank you’s at the door, many of us have headed straight for the trash can to deposit bloody and raggedly-cut fillets with the dark muscle-line still intact. Good bluefish have been bled on the boat, and expertly filleted with a sharp knife to remove the strong-tasting dark line of flesh running down the length of the fillet. The bluefish brought in by our SOSSEXI fishermen are these beautiful fillets.
Even super-fresh and well-filleted bluefish can still be too strong for many people’s tastes. I am going to include the most delicious bluefish recipe I have ever tried, and it is compliments of Molto Mario, or Mario Batalli. Give it a try and let me know what you think. In the weeks to come, as the bluefish continue to invade our waters, I encourage you to choose them in one of your weekly shares, and be careful when entering the water!
Baked Bluefish: Bluefish “in cartoccio”
This recipe is from Mario Batalli
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 4 pieces blue fish fillet, 1 1/2 pounds total
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 blood oranges, segmented and zested
- 1 cup oregano flowers, or other late summer herb flowers
- 1 medium red onion, sliced paper thin
- 2 bunches Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/2 cup
- 1/4 cup packed mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper into 16-inch squares. Grease each piece of parchment with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season the blue fish with salt and pepper and place just right of the center of each piece of parchment paper. Divide the orange segments, oregano flowers, and red onion on top of the 4 fish fillets and sprinkle each with parsley and mint, Drizzle with olive oil and some juice from the oranges. Fold the left half of the parchment over and crimp the edges between your thumb and forefinger so that each pouch is sealed. Brush each pouch with olive oil. Place each on a cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes. Remove and present still sealed to each diner. Using a sharp knife or a pair of scissors, open the “cartoccio”. Drizzle with olive oil, add some raw orange zest, salt, and more orange juice. Eat immediately.
Option Two: Make the pouch of double layers of foil and cook on a grill for 8 minutes.