Porgy: durable, inexpensive and delicious on the grill

The cheapest wine on the menu is often worth ordering. Likewise, porgies with bright eyes and silvery skin – usually among the cheaper ...


The cheapest wine on the menu is often worth ordering. Likewise, porgies with bright eyes and silvery skin – usually among the cheaper options at the fish counter – deserve more attention than they get. In addition to their low price, good flavor and succulent texture, porgies are abundant and durable, a rarity in these days of overfishing.

“As a former chef, I love to cook porgy; it has a sweet flavor almost similar to that of shrimp, ”said Savannah Jordan, owner of the Montauk Fishing Club, which distributes freshly caught local fish, including whole porgies, in New York City and the Hudson Valley. “It’s a versatile fish for cooking and, with fish prices soaring, it’s still an affordable option.”

Other seafood experts singing the praises of Porgy include Dave Pasternack, the chef and partner of Pastavino on Staten Island. While Mr. Pasternack agrees that porgy is generally underrated, “it tastes good,” he said. He loves slicing sashimi fillets and grilling them whole so the skin becomes crisp.

Dane Sayles, the Jamaican-born executive chef of Hampton Point East who has lived on Long Island for more than six years, says the fish adopts assertive seasonings like those used in its country of origin. “You won’t season a fish like halibut the way you would porgy,” he said. He prepares a herbal marinade smoothed with tahini and zapped with marinated jalapeños to coat skipping porgy fillets or grill.

Some resistance to porgies, also known as scup in New England, can be attributed to the many bones of the fish. “Don’t get me started on the bone thing; people hate fish bones, ”said Dan Barber, executive chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY Bones are easier to remove from raw fish when it’s larger – in the two-pound range. But the easiest way to de-bone is to grill or roast the entire porgy: the cooked fillet will easily peel off the skeleton.

Another obstacle to porgy’s popularity is its name, which, like scup, is derived from mishscuppaug, the native Narragansett name for fish.

“The sea bream is OK, but not the porgy,” said Sean Barrett of Flat dock, a Long Island company that buys seafood from fishermen and delivers it directly to restaurants and retailers. Ayesha Nurdjaja, Executive Chef and Partner of Shuka in Manhattan, also noted that consumers have no problem accepting sea bream and orata, two fish from the same sea bream family as a porgy, but drag their feet at the porgy. Mr. Pasternack of Pastavino sometimes calls it orata Americana. TO Nick & Toni in East Hampton, NY, executive chef Joe Realmuto calls the porgy a sea bream from Montauk and roasts it whole in a wood-fired oven for an easy sale.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Porgy: durable, inexpensive and delicious on the grill
Porgy: durable, inexpensive and delicious on the grill
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