June 20, 2013
POMPANO ~ A fish plump & rich
Have you tried pompano fish? I've seen these plump, substantial fish in the markets - mostly Asian ones - thinking that they looked like they'd be tasty. It took me long enough, but when I finally bought a fresh one, I found that tasty was exactly right! Cute little guy, isn't he?
The fresh pompano fish that we get here in the U.S. are usually from the Gulf, hence known as Florida pompano. Part of the jack family (like mackerel), they're between 2 and 3 pounds, prefer warm waters (70-90º F), have a lifespan of 3-4 years and reach full size quickly, which makes them a good choice for sustainable seafood. They are fast swimmers, found in large schools and are strong fighters on the fishing line. Their skin looks like shimmering silver lamé, with yellow highlights and has such fine scales that it need not be scaled before cooking.
The taste ~ it is its own flavor, rather like salmon has its own flavor and would never be confused with another fish, pompano is like that, too. It's oily (lots of Omega oils), rich, fishy (that's what I like about it), firm-fleshed and easy to eat off the bone. It's nice to cook it in a way that shows off its beautiful skin - barbecuing, broiling or baking it. One of the most famous ways to cook it is New Orleans style - en papillote (in parchment). I chose to grill it, slashing the skin and giving it a simple dressing with lemon, butter and chives stuffed in the cavity. I didn't want to overwhelm the true flavor of the fish.
Give it a try ~ you may find you have a new favorite.
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