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Last Chance Foods

Last Chance Foods: Fishing for Spring

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Stephanie Villani and Alex Villani of Blue Moon Fish are a little like the fish they bring to the city’s greenmarkets. They spend the winter season in warmer climates (in their case, the Florida Keys), before returning to the northeast in the spring. They’re back this year—and so are fluke, porgies and other fish.

“This fish are migrating and moving around, and we’re starting to get some of the spring fish, like weakfish, porgies and fluke,” Stephanie Villani said. Fluke, a type of flounder, is a springtime catch, she says. Alex, who fishes off Long Island, will continue to catch more of it as the weather gets warmer.

Villani likes to recommend fluke to customers who are less familiar with fish because of its mild, sweet taste.

“Kids like it,” she said. “The fluke is very thick and firm. It will hold together well, and it’s mild.” For those reasons, some people also eat the fluke raw, as sashimi.

Another fish that Blue Moon is currently bringing into market are porgies, a good choice for anyone concerned about sustainability issues. “There are lots of porgies, it’s very plentiful,” Villani said.

Porgies are relatively small at 1 to 2 pounds each. Villani says they’re sweet, but there’s one downside. “They are very boney. A lot of people don’t like them because of that reason,” she admitted.

(Photo: Fluke from Blue Moon Fish/Sally Mara Sturman)

While Villani says there’s no way to avoid eating around all those bones, she did offer one shortcut in preparing porgy: a salt crust. “That way you don’t have to scale the fish. It makes it very tender and it’s also fun,” she explained. “You mix some salt and flour into a paste and cover the fish.”

While some can tell if a fish is done cooking by touch, Villani concedes she hasn’t yet acquired that skill. Instead, she goes by conventional wisdom. “The basic rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness of the filet,” Villani said. And when in doubt, “I just under do it.... Sometimes I have to check it a few times, but I think that’s better than overcooking it.”

Below, try Villani’s quick and easy recipe for preparing porgy fillets.

Basic Porgy Recipe
by Blue Moon Fish

  • 1 lb. porgy fillets
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cajun spice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • half a lemon, cut in quarters

Cut out the thin line of bones that runs down each porgy fillet, leaving you with two small strips of meat.

Combine the flour and the cajun spice on a plate or a shallow dish and mix with a fork.  Dip the fillets in the flour mixture and shake off the excess.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot place the fillets in the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes per side.

Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and a squeeze of lemon.