I bet the last piece of seafood you bought or ate from the supermarket was either raised on a farm or fished somewhere other than Narragansett Bay. Of course it was; there are very few places to buy local fish, plus, very few folks even know what to do with them. We bet you've heard names like scup, tautog, flounder, skate and bluefish, to name a few. Imagine if you knew how delicious they were and how to prepare them at home.
Our School of Fish series at Hope & Main is aiming to accomplish that. Eating with the Ecosystem has made it our mission to increase Rhode Islander's awareness of the diversity of species available for consumption in our environment. Now we're going one step further--we're teaching you how to cook these species with the help of area chefs. We're here to help you take the fear out of fish so that you can confidently make them at home.
You, Too, Can Cook a Whole Fish
The fish of choice for the first series was scup--commonly known as porgy. Scup is a small, tender white fish that is a great candidate for cooking whole. Under the guidance of Chef Jonathan Cambra and Chef Max Peterson, a room full of guests learned how to cook a whole scup.
Taking the Fear out of Fish
The chefs took guests step by step through trimming the fins and scales, gutting, cleaning, marinating, pan-searing and then finishing the scup in the oven. To top it off, seasonal vegetables were served alongside the tender, flaky and delicious fish. That night the choices were oven roasted potatoes, onions and peppers. They even paired the meal with a crisp and tart vinho verde white wine.
Throughout the night the chefs took turns answering questions from the guests: Is it fine to keep the scales on? Why can't I buy this at my local market? Is it okay to keep the scup fillet on the bone? Diners kept the discussion going beyond scup preparation and into the seated meal. Fishermen and their spouses attended; fisheries observers put in their two cents about the fishing industry; and interested individuals all partook in the lively conversation centered around a fish that is rarely eaten at home by the majority of Rhode Islanders. And that was the point.
Eating with the Ecosystem can now count on another roomful of individuals to diversify their diet with this lesser known fish species. Hopefully, they'll share their experience with others, and get them on board to incorporate scup into their diet. If they do, it'll be a delicious success.