I don’t generally tell you about our meals.
Generally, we eat well. I’m a competent cook, even a good one, but most of what I make is pretty pedestrian. I’m a big fan of composed dishes like stews and soups and casseroles, and I make them out of whatever it is we’ve harvested lately. I don’t post many recipes because it seems silly to tell someone to go out and get the same mix of ingredients that we just happened to have.
Last night, though, we had something worth repeating.
We’d gone out bluefish fishing on Sunday, and come home with two sea bass in addition to our seven bluefish (more on that later). I’d cooked sea bass once or twice – it’s a dense, white fish with a mild flavor – but I didn’t have a favorite way to make it.
So I called Gus.
I know I’m not supposed to traffic in ethnic stereotypes, but if you want to know how to cook a fish, call a Greek.
We knew Gus was our kind of person the moment we met him – he was cooking a whole lamb on a rotisserie that he had made himself out of a washing machine. We had heard that he liked to go fishing, but he corrected us on that. “I like to go catching,” he said.
Gus had told me that sea bass was one of his all-time favorite fish, so I figured I’d try cooking it his way.
His way was simple. Snip off all the sharp parts (sea bass have spiny fins and tails). Scale them, clean them, and take out the gills. Cut three slits in each side, and salt the fish inside and out. Let them sit in the fridge overnight. Grill about 20 minutes, and serve with a sauce of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oregano.
I had a beautiful head of slightly bitter greens (I forget exactly what kind) from our hydroponic system, and some winter kale from the hoophouse. I sautéed a couple strips of diced bacon, added onion and garlic, and then the chopped greens.
The sauce was as Gus prescribed. Olive oil and lemon juice in a 2:1 ratio (emulsified in the blender), with salt, pepper, and a handful of chopped fresh oregano.
That’s it. That’s all it was. And it was spectacularly good.
Somehow, the smoky bacon and bitter greens were balanced by the acidity of the lemon juice, and the fish was just flavorful enough to assert itself through it all.
When I make something truly delicious, it’s always an accident. I know, if I try to repeat this, it won’t be quite the same. But it’ll be worth a shot.