The whole fish

The top ranking song in my itunes playlist: “I’m Gonna Make You Sweat.”
Bring it back to the hippocampus: Everybody dance now, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom..
Ferdinand bought it two days ago and since then, has played it an even, 60 times. I couldn’t think of a better theme song for cooking a 12 pound fish when you’re on the 23rd floor of a building in midtown with a a lunch bell that rings at 12:30. You get one chance; there is no running out to spend another $400 on a new one. Even if you wanted to–there are no fish mongers parked between the tulips of Park Avenue because it’s just not practical to keep raw fish under your desk. In case you find yourself in this particular situation, here’s what you do:

1. Be sure to ask that the fish be delivered already in two halves, skinned and boned. I don’t travel with knives since they started checking bags on the subway.
2. Get the fish out of the fridge a half hour before to come to room temperature before you are going to roast it. Roasting it whole it in two large pieces is the way to go if you are pressed for time, you just have to swallow your nerves and cope with them later.
3. Wipe it down with paper towels, on both sides, from head to tail, checking for any stray scales. Next go over the whole fish with your finger tips, to be sure all the bones are out. This is a good reason to pack fish tweezers wherever you go. (in my purse: pastry tip, kitchen twine, fish tweezers, matches and a nutmeg.)
4. Slice up a few beautiful oranges into discs, with the rind. Set aside. Saute about 6 red bell peppers along with 6 shallots, half of a head of garlic, a sprig of thyme, a sprig of parsley and a sprig of rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove and wipe out the saute pan. Add more olive oil, the other half of the head of garlic still attached to each other, about 8 sprigs of rosemary, double of thyme and parsley. When the garlic is golden, turn off the flame.
5. Rub both halves of the fish with olive oil, and season with kosher salt. Make a rack on the sheet pan with celery stalks that cross over each other. Sprinkle half of the garlic one pan, and the other half on the other. Roughly cut up one more shallot and sprinkle that around the garlic and celery with some of the rosemary. Give each tray a few slices of orange. Lay the fish down on the trays, and cover with the remaining herbs. If the tail end is super thin, just tuck it under itself so it cooks at the same rate as the other fish. Roast at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. When the fish is no longer opaque, and flakes rather easily, it’s done. Let it rest a minute and serve with your saute of red pepper and shallot that you add just a squeeze of lemon to and a teeny weeny dash of red wine vinegar.

Goes really well with fragrant rice (saute a bunch of leeks and fold into jasmine rice with a little lemon zest.) and a salad
that’s a little spicy, like arugula. Or you could always make a warm potato (roasted or boiled) and stir the arugula into that.

If it works, strike a pose.

Leave a Reply