SPECIAL ORDER A FISH FROM YOUR LOCAL SEAFOOD SUPPLIER!
This week’s double dog dare is an easy one. All you need to do is head down to your local seafood dealer and introduce yourself. Then ask them to bring in something interesting, preferably a new fish that you haven’t tried. Here are a few recommendations that fall outside of the regular stocking mix for a seafood dealer, but are common enough that they should be able to order them:
Hawaiian Opah – These wacky fish are as big as they are cool. They usually come with their polka dotted skin still attached and you can get a piece that is any size you can handle. An opah loin might be as big as a pot roast. The meat is mild, but interesting and with enough oil to keep it from drying out. Cook this fish simply to highlight the unique natural flavor. I like to sauté it in butter with shallots and thyme. (Sauté lesson here) Think of this fish like a cross between a tuna and a swordfish. It is firm and white to light pink, but you should serve it a little rare like tuna.
Monkfish – This fish is not going to be pretty in the case, and for that reason, many dealers don’t stock it. A whole monkfish is the stuff of nightmares, but the fillet of monkfish looks about like a smoker’s lung. Who’s hungry? Despite the marketing challenges, this fish is easy to special order and cooks up to a nice, pretty, off-white color. It was once called poor-man’s lobster, but lately it costs about the same as lobster. It eats lobsters in the wild, which causes it to have a distinct lobster flavor. You can sauté this guy in butter or poach it in a tomato based broth. I like to cut monkfish into chunks, toss these in a quick seasoned flour mix and fry them. These fried monkfish nuggets go great with an aioli or dipped in melted butter.
Cobia – Nicknamed the black salmon because it’s nutritional profile is similar to salmon, these fish taste nothing like a salmon. They are a cousin of the remora, which you might have seen suctioned to the bottom of sharks on TV. This is a dense fish with a medium level of oiliness which makes it great for a shish-kabob cooked over charcoal and basted with teriyaki sauce or a soy sauce and ginger mixture. It doesn’t dry out too much and it is very forgiving even over big flames. It is gaining in popularity in the US and you might start a trend once your seafood dealer brings it in. It is outstanding, with a great flavor and meaty texture.
Pompano – If you live in Florida, this fish will be everywhere, but for the rest of us, this fish requires a little effort to procure. I like to cut hashmarks in pompano, brush with olive oil, and then cook them on the grill with a spice mix of salt, cumin, coriander, and chili powder. The skin on these is tough enough to handle the grill and the flesh tastes like clean ocean water. These beautiful fish taste absolutely fantastic and are nice and juicy when cooked this way.
Turbot – The turbot is a cousin of the halibut and they taste similar, but with a unique flavor that is all their own. They are a little softer, and much cheaper. These are good in baked applications, but can be grilled or sautéed. They can get quite large, so purchasing a big slab to feed several people should be easy. This is a good choice for fish and chips.
Sometimes, seafood dealers will have some crazy minimum on special orders. If your dealer needs you to order 10 pounds of a fish to get something special, I would recommend you look elsewhere. I’ve special ordered fish from my regular grocery without any issue and been very pleased with the results. Whole foods will also special-order fish on request. They have a limited list of options, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.