At Last

There are certain inalienable rites of summer that begin with local produce, not the stuff that appears all year long shipped in from Chile or California: asparagus, lettuce, shad (I didn’t get to cook it this year), strawberries; later corn, tomatoes, blueberries, peaches, zucchini, eggplant. I made ratatouille last week. Next will come apples, winter squash. Then it will be time to make the mincemeat. The one thing that has been missing this summer is bluefish.

Credit: Newenglandboating.com
Credit: Newenglandboating.com

As I mentioned in “Fish Tales,” posted in early July, my source is no more. He moved to Florida and then disappeared completely. He was one of those avid fishermen who would go out on expensive charters but never let much of anything except huge pieces of prime rib and chicken wings pass his lips. He even ignored the carrots and celery that came with the wings. The vegetable was the potato that came with the beef. That meant more blues for me! And they came fileted. I struggled along last year, but this year – nothing. Until last weekend.

At last weekend’s Open Air Market and Festival at Wadsworth Mansion, another of the featured summer events, I ran into a neighbor who said he was supposed to go for tuna, but the swells were too high. This man is so dedicated, the license plate on his truck reads “Fluke1”!

I asked him if he ever fished for blues. Oh, yes, he was about to go out because he was planning to smoke some. I sighed over the year I borrowed my neighbor’s smoker and then made the Legal Seafoods recipe for Smoked Bluefish Pâté. I had my commitment.

Didn’t realize it would pay off so fast. When I arrived home last night and went into the fridge where I saw this large plastic baggie sitting on a folded sheet of newspaper. It looked familiar, but I was tired and distracted. This a.m., rushed and distracted. As I was leaving for the writing workshop this evening Larry said, “Oh, Kenny brought you some bluefish.” Yikes! This is not a fish that improves with age. I always remember “guests, fish, three days” but won’t quote the rest of it.

So I came home and pulled out two of the most enormous filets I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what they weighed – I’m guessing two pounds apiece. God only knows what the original fish looked like – I’m thinking we should be talking “Call me Ishmael.” And those babies have teeth that can wreak havoc like a mini-shark. I told Larry there was enough fish for him, me, and the family of four next door.

Those babies just fit into my 9 x 13 glass pan. I washed and toweled, and then added the marinade. Because it was last minute, I whisked together canola oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, lots of ginger, and poured it over the filets. They are happily bathing over night in the fridge to be turned in the a.m. and baked tomorrow. Review to follow.

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