A Fish Narrative — from Rhode Island Boat to BrooklynTable

The Boat: ""Captain James Haitz caught your fish on the F/V James and Matthew, an otter trawler docked out of the Port of Galilee, Rhode Island. Captain Haitz has collaborated with scientists at Cornell’s Cooperative Extension Marine Program to modifiy his trawling gear to reduce his bycatch," Mermaid's Garden's email to members explains. "In his area, the yellowtail stock was recently declared rebuilt."

Step One, The Boat: “Captain James Haitz caught your fish on the F/V James & Matthew, an otter trawler docked out of the Port of Galilee, Rhode Island,” Mermaid’s Garden advised Brooklyn members. “Captain Haitz has collaborated with scientists at Cornell’s Cooperative Extension Marine Program to modify his trawling gear to reduce his bycatch.” (Photo via Mermaid’s Garden)

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).

Step Two: The Recipe: The print-out from the FB page is beautifully formatted, easy to follow.

Step Two: The Recipe: The print-out from the FB page is carefully formatted, easy to follow.

“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.”

Step Three: Salt and pepper, then into the dip and bread-and-flour mix, and right into the saute pan.

Step Three: Season it, then into the dip and bread-and-flour mix, and right into the saute pan.

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.

The Final Step: Onto the table for all to enjoy!

The Final Step: Ready to serve!

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.)

 

Plenty More Fish for the Borough, Tra-la!

Detail of plate from a Villeroy & Boch 7-piece fish set on eBay (# 230907702410); best hurry, there's only one set.

Trout detail, Villeroy & Boch 7-pc. fish set, eBay #230907702410; best hurry, only one!

BROOKLYN’S COMMUNITY SUPPORTED FISHERY Mermaid’s Garden has just announced two new pickup points starting later this month. Adding Ditmas Park’s Sycamore Bar and Flower Shop and Williamsburg’s Urban Rustic will greatly extend Mermaid’s Garden’s coverage for more than 200 fish lovers and adventurous eaters across Brooklyn.

There are also openings for some new members in the established spots in Red Hook, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Clinton Hill/Bed Stuy, and Bushwick (see mermaidsgardennyc.com for locations). As always, the fish offered are sustainable species responsibly fished by individuals you will often get to know by name, thanks to the weekly email from Mermaid’s Garden.

Co-founders Bianca Piccillo, a Harvard-trained marine biologist, and Mark Usewicz, a Paris-trained chef, will become your mentors in protecting sealife one delicious dinner at a time. Bianca will gently educate you about the different varieties of fish they offer, frequently introducing you to the people and naming the boats that supply them, and on Mermaid’s Garden’s Facebook page, Mark shares recipes he has developed and some guidelines for better preparation. For instance, this one – posted last November – has proved itself in one of Brooklyn Artisan’s very own test kitchens.

Bay Scallop Crudo

Simple is the best recipe for bay scallops. This crudo recipe is a quick recipe that really lets the scallops shine.

12 Bay scallops, shucked
1 Tbsp. Lemon, juice of
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 drop Hot Sauce, (preferably scotch bonnet or habanero based)
Salt and Pepper
A few leaves of cilantro

1. In a nonreactive bowl mix the scallops, lemon, hot sauce and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the cilantro before serving.

But if that Italian-style scallop sushi is not your thing, you’ll find alternatives. [Read more…]

Fresh Fish, Smoked Fish—Any Way You Like It

Day Two  12 Tastes of Brooklyn
Wouldn’t this make a perfect tile in the subway station at Sheepshead Bay, home to Brooklyn’s own 50-boat fishing fleet? But no, the mosaic is by an unknown Roman artist, 3rd to 5th century A.D. Found in Tunisia, it now resides in Brooklyn Museum.


Wouldn’t this make a perfect tile in the subway station at Sheepshead Bay, home to Brooklyn’s
own 50-boat fishing fleet? But no, the mosaic is by an unknown Roman artist, 3rd to
5th century A.D. Found in Tunisia, it now resides in Brooklyn Museum. (Photo courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

dec7THE FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES is an Italian Christmas Eve celebration with as many interpretations as there are families and regions of Italy—and Brooklyn. If you want to create your own feast, you have a treat in store: Mermaid’s Garden, Brooklyn’s first CSF, or Community Supported Fishery, is opening its holiday store to the public. (CSF members—including some Brooklyn Artisan folks—sign up for a weekly drop of delicious sustainable fish and seafood, much of it caught in local waters.) The holiday store will have live Montauk lobsters, Montauk Pearl and wild Maine Belon oysters, fish fillets, clams, squid and more. How about Siberian sturgeon caviar?! The online store is open from Saturday, December 8 to Monday, December 17. Pickup will be at four Brooklyn spots on Saturday, December 22.

For full details about the fish (and fishermen), how to buy, and addresses for pickup, go to the Mermaid’s Garden website.  And on the Mermaid’s Garden Facebook page, you’ll find wonderful recipes from co-owner and chef Mark Usewitz.

If you’d rather someone else do the cooking, Chef Saul Bolton will be serving a Feast of the Seven Fishes on Dec. 24 at his Michelin-starred Saul Restaurant in Cobble Hill, as he has for the last eight years—and for the first time this year, he tells us, at his new Italian restaurant, Red Gravy, in Brooklyn Heights. Call 718-935-9842 for more information on menus and for reservations.

mackerel-squid-bensonhurst

Mackerel and squid at a Bensonhurst fish market, where you could also find sardines and eel,
popular choices for the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Don’t forget, too, that Brooklyn is known as the smoked fish capital of America. Acme Smoked Fish has been at the center of that world since the early 1900s when Harry Brownstein, an emigrant from Russia, took a job as a “wagon jobber,” picking up hot fish from smokehouses with his horse-drawn wagon and hand-delivering them to small grocery and appetizing stores. Eventually he got his own smokehouse, which four generations later has grown into a Brooklyn institution that smokes, cures, slices, packs and ships 7 million pounds of fish a year.

Acme Smoked Fish and their more recent brand, Blue Hill Bay, are both for sale at the company's Fish Friday.

Acme Smoked Fish and Blue Hill Bay smoked seafood are both available at wholesale prices at the company’s Fish Friday.

The fish, which except for the sturgeon is certified kosher, is sold all around the city (Zabar’s, Costco)—and well beyond. But for a real feel for where it comes from—and great bargains—get yourself out to the Greenpoint plant on a Friday morning between 8 and 1, the only time sales are open directly to the public. A room just off the plant floor is filled with racks of smoked whitefish, boxes of brook trout, smoked salmon laid out on the table—all perfect for holiday entertaining.

Mermaid’s Garden
info@mermaidsgardennyc.com 

Saul Restaurant
140 Smith Street, Cobble Hill
718-935-9842

Acme Smoked Fish Corporation
25-56 Gem Street, Greenpoint
718-383-8585

Photographs by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is Mrs Eaves, by Zuzana Licko, Emigre, 1996.

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