Bluefish with roast potatoes and onions, and a side salad to lift it

At the market this week I was once again eagerly looking forward to picking up some mackerel from PE & DD Seafoods. Mackerel is beautiful to look at and such a fine taste: oily and fishy, but not too fishy.  Sadly once again, Long Island Sound failed to offer up my favourite fish. This is what being a local, seasonal consumer is about however; being prepared to not get what you originally desire and instead finding other treats to satisfy. And so it was today. Instead of the striped shiny beauty I was offered a bluefish instead. Exceptional value at $3.50 a pound I picked up a fine looking specimen that would do me for two dishes this week. The first of which is this simple one-pan dish suggested by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his excellent book “three good things” Add a simple side salad and you have a seriously good Saturday afternoon luncheon on your hands.

roast bluefish

Like the mackerel, bluefish is oily and fishy (in a good way). And like the mackerel, you really should cook it on the day you buy it. This shouldn’t be a chore though; a simple roasting or grilling will do wonders for it. Pair it with something acidic (tomatoes or lemons perhaps) to cut through the oiliness and you have a match made in heaven. The potatoes I used were a variety called La Ratte, a favourite of frech chefs for its nutty, buttery flavour. If you can score some of them I thoroughly recommend them. A simple green side salad here helps to cleanse the palate; I used purslane, foraged Lesser Celandine (La Ficaire) and sorrel, but really leaves and lemony vinaigrette of any sort will work well.

bluefish cooking with roast potatoes

Roast Bluefish with onions and potatoes
Serves 2
Roast oily fish with creamy potatoes infused with the scent of bay leaves. This sort of fish should really be cooked on the day you buy it and with a preparation this simple there's no reason not to.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 good sized fillets of bluefish, about 8oz each
  2. about half a dozen small red onions, peeled and halved
  3. about a dozen or so fingerling potatoes, chopped into 1" pieces
  4. a few bay leaves
  5. a lemon
Instructions
  1. Set the oven to 400ºF / 200ºC
  2. Toss together the potatoes, onions and bay leaves with a hearty glug of olive oil and some salt and cracked black pepper. Put in the oven for about twenty minutes to let them brown up before turning the temperature down a shade to 375ºC / 190ºC. This should allow the potatoes and onions to brown without burning and becoming bitter. Give them another twenty minutes.
  3. Season the fish with a little more salt and pepper and roast for about another 10 minutes until it is cooked through. This is a good time to toss together a quick green side salad. When done, squeeze over a little lemon juice and serve with extra lemon on the plate.
Variations
  1. You could drop the bay and up the lemony notes by squeezing lemon juice over the potatoes midway through roasting and chucking the spent lemon in the pan too.
  2. This method works well with any oily fish so you could swap that out. And given oily fishes affinity for acid I could see roast tomatoes loving this meal too.
Adapted from Hugh's Three Good things on a plate
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/
A simple green salad of purslane, la ficaire and sorrel
Serves 2
This might sound exotic because of the leaves I used, but really this would work well with any buttery, juicy leaves like lambs lettuce (mâche).
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. A handful of La Ficaire, leaves separated from tubers
  2. A little less of purslane
  3. A few leaves of sorrel
For the dressing
  1. 3 teaspoons grassy Olive Oil
  2. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  3. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Wash the leaves thoroughly and dry in a salad spinner. The leaves I used are small, but if you choose something larger then roughly chop them. Put in a large bowl.
  2. Finely cut or tear the sorrel. A little of the tangy acid taste in the leaves will be released. This is a good thing. Add to the salad.
  3. Now make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil and lemon juice. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Spoon a little of the dressing over the salad and mix it all up. Don't drench the leaves: think shiny not oil slick. taste and if you think it needs it, add a little more lemon juice.
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/

Pairing with bluefish

I would be quite partial to a crisp Pinot Grigio with this. It’s a little bit citrussy but otherwise quite light and clean; I really don’t want something heavy to compete with the fish. It’s a much maligned wine, but you can find good ones and I think it’s great for something rich and oily like this. If you’re determined not to have a Pinot Grigio, go for a Sauvignon Blanc. For beer I would go with a bright lemony wheat beer like Hoegaarden.

Provenance

Bluefish: PE & DD Seafood

Onions: Paffenroth Gardens

Potatoes (La Ratte): Mountain Sweet Berry Farm

La Ficaire (Lesser Celandine): Foraged by Tama Matsuoka Wong

Purslane: Lani’s Farm

 

 

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