February 12, 2009 in Fish

Fresh Bluefish

We built our house back in 1995 and have lived here ever since. You would think that in those years I would have gotten to know the local resources much better but its not as easy as you might think. For one, there are not that many resources here to begin with. Note also that I didn’t grow up here nor do I have any family within a 2000 mile radius, we are on our own. We don’t know all the little hidden gems so we have been slowly uncovering them ourselves. There are so many we may never find!

We don’t live in outer mongolia but in terms of food, yeah, we do. The local restaurants are best if they are the pizza joints. The others, especially the ones that have illusions of haute cuisine, are not worth the trip down the hill.

B.T.'s BBQ: From the front

If you read this blog, you know I found a fantastic local resource in B.T.’s Smokehouse run by Brian Treitman. Not only does Brian pour everything into his BBQ, he has been great to get to know!

B.T.'s Smokehouse: Brian Treitman - chef

I have written several posts on his food:

We have no real main streets because all business activity has long since been completely co-opted by big box stores some miles away. We certainly didn’t move here for the food but over the years, a steady diet of Stop n Shop blandness can wear on you.

A few years ago I came across a great local butcher, Ed Stearns Dressed Meats butcher shop in Charlton, MA (a hike but close in relative terms). They began business in 1932 so they have been around for a few years. I love supporting local businesses like this especially because its a family business making it in a tough big box world.

Our local butcher

Our local butcher

My latest great food related fortune has been finding a recently opened fish shop in Sturbridge, MA. Stop n Shop has a fish counter but its bland and the attendants do not know anything about their products. Also, they sell NO whole fish and if asked, they generally look at me like I grew a second head!

So you can imagine how happy I was when I first noticed the G & R Fish Market open in Sturbridge about a year or so ago. They are located at 135 Main St, Sturbridge, MA 01566-1569 (map). In that time I have not had a real free moment to check them out until late last week.

I walked in and was greeted by Sebastiano, one of the market owners. My goodness, he was so welcoming. This is absolutely a good sign because it means he loves what he does. I once visited a fish market in West Concord, MA (Twin Seafood) and felt utterly overwhelmed and a bit terrified by the stridency of their way of doing business.

Sebastiano is the polar opposite, very calm and very excited to hear of my interest in getting some fish bones and whole fish. I found myself making a special order. He was going into Boston to the great fish sellers there and find something for me. I asked him to surprise me. This last Tuesday we got a fantastic 2 foot bluefish that had been caught that morning. This is a fish I have never had before and I have only grilled whole fish so this was going to be a new experience for me.

Caged red snapper

(Grilling fish from Whole Foods one summer)

After taking all sorts of shots of the fish, I gutted it. I remember gutting fish as a kid while camping and I also have a lot of experience gutting chickens we dispatch in our backyard so this was not difficult.

Bluefish, gutted

From here its simply a matter of removing the scales (very easy with this fish), rinsing, stuffing the cavity with cilantro, lemons, lime, bit of sea salt, cutting the fish in a few places to encourage even cooking time, olive oil, garlic, salt. I then threw it in a 425F oven for 25 minutes or so, checking the cuts for doneness of the meat (just opaque, just flaky)

Bluefish after cooking

Sorry this shot isn’t better, family was hungry and no time for beauty!

The fish came out just barely cooked, lightly scented by the citrus, garlic, and cilantro. It had a distinct flavor that was quite delicious. Its not bland like salmon can be, it holds it own but in a way that is lovely. Be sure to remove the dark meat as that has a much more fishy flavor that some may not like. Everyone in our family loved it from the toddler on up. I will be making stock from the head and bones!

As this is a larger fish and carniverous, it sits at the top of the food chain. For this reason it does bioaccumulate toxins and heavy metals. Its a great once in a while treat but not something a young family or young women wants to eat on a regular basis.