It started with one porgy from Kate's. I planned on grabbing a black bass, the default when my brain isn't working early on Saturday morning, but got steered to this instead. The fish was not expensive, but it was familiar. Just like black bass, I used to catch these all the time growing up, typically when pier fishing in New Jersey, and would hand them off to anyone around that was interested. They just seemed bony, and no one I knew kept them. What I didn't know then that I do now is these are great fish. For my tastes, better than black bass, and much better, if not requiring a little more work, than bronzini and other standard fish counter choices.
This fish got scaled and gutted at Kate's. At home, I salted the whole fish inside and out while heating up a pan with a mix of grape seed oil and butter. I also stuffed the fish with some lemon chunks, just a couple. The fish got dried with paper towels and then placed in the hot oil/butter mix, where it cooked for about 3 minutes--just until the skin got a little crispy. Then the fish got flipped and placed in a 450 oven (hot oil + dry fish = no sticking) for about ten or twelve minutes in the hot oven. After removing the fish from the oven, I threw a little (like 1/4 tsp) of minced garlic in the pan where it immediately sizzled in the oil mixture, and I basted the fish with the now fragrant oil before leaving it to rest until just cool enough to handle. This was dinner for two, so each person got a piece of belly and a piece of loin. I didn't share the collar, cheeks, and what I think may have been the tongue.
Roasting the whole porgy was a great way to maximize the yield of the bony fish. Fillets would have been tiny. By cooking the fish whole it was super easy to pick the top fillet right off the bone, remove the spine, and then grab the bottom fillet. Any rib bones were easily removed from the cooked flesh before serving. And with the whole fish you get a nice margin of error as far as overcooking goes.
The fish got dressed with a mix of super light Ligurian olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, capers, sherry vinegar, a tiny amount of minced garlic, and a little salt. Lemons, olive oil, and garlic. Fish has no better friends, even if garlic can sometimes be the third wheel.
The Brussels sprouts were just roasted in that 450 oven with grape seed oil and salt, while the potatoes were fried in peanut oil, twice, and seasoned with smokey pimenton and salt.
All in all a nice meal that got me reminiscing about my home state, that may or may not be underwater by the week's end.