POOLING OUR FISH, we call it, when Mediterraneanista heads over to Brooklyn, picks up her fish from the Mermaid’s Garden drop at the Palo Santo restaurant on Union Street, and brings it along to Brooklyn Artisan HQ in the North Slope. This week the Mermaid’s Garden Community Supported Fishery offering was yellowtail flounder.
From Bianca Piccillo, marine biologist and CSF co-founder, we’d learned about yellowtail: “Like many of our local species, the story of Limanda ferruginea was until recently a grim one. Yellowtail are managed in three geographic sectors: Cape Cod/Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and Southern New England/Mid- Atlantic. Starting in the 1930’s fishing pressure on yellowtail picked up (as winter flounder stocks declined).
“By the 1990’s all three yellowtail stocks had collapsed,” Mermaid’s Garden’s report said. “Rebuilding plans for the three stocks of yellowtail were implemented in 2004 and 2006. The Southern New England/ Mid-Atlantic stock was recently declared rebuilt!”
So our fish are strictly legit. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
And these particular flounder have personality: “Like summer flounder, yellowtail are fast growing and mature early,” we learned. “Unlike summer flounder, yellowtail are right-eyed flounders: As they mature their left eye migrates to the right side of its body. After this migration yellowtail settle near the sea floor.”
Okay, next question: How to cook it? Bianca had warned us, “Yellowtail is relatively delicate, so cook it carefully lest you end up with mush.” Uh-oh. Then the good news: “Mark has added two new recipes for flounder to our repertoire – a braised recipe and a crispy pan-fried preparation.” Mark Usewicz is Mermaid’s Garden’s co-founder, and a Paris-trained chef. His recipes are in the Notes section of Mermaid’s Garden’s Facebook page.
Time to meet the fish. Since they are cleaned, fileted, ready to cook, we don’t have that worrisome look-you-in-the-eye moment. Our family chef quickly blesses the fish with salt and pepper. The egg-and-milk dip is ready, flour and fine bread crumbs mixed.
Small-batch production: Sautéed two by two with a little oil and butter and then transferred to a warmed tray until all are done. Arranged on the platter, garnished with parsley and lemon wedges, and –ta da! –ready to serve! A treat worth sharing.
(Photographs from Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool.)