Baked what? Pronounced like “Porgy” from “Porgy and Bess,” this mild, flaky white-fleshed fish (also known as scup) is long-underrated. Delicious, nutritious, easy to make, and affordable, Porgy is similar to tilapia (both are mild-tasting white fish) but sweeter. So say goodbye to lobster, salmon, shrimp, and tuna and all the other popular kids. Get adventurous and try something new…
An Underappreciated Fish
You hardly ever see porgy on an American restaurant’s menu — specials maybe, but not on the actual menu. It may not have the pedigree of an American red snapper or black grouper, but chefs say it’s got the same quality. It’s not the prettiest fish you’ve ever seen, but it’s fabulous when cooked, whether sautéed or baked whole. So why does Porgy get such a bad rap? Perhaps because it’s used as bait for bigger fish — labeled as nothing more than “by-catch” by some — and its name doesn't sound particularly classy. But if you’ve ever tried fresh grilled porgy, you know why seafood fans from England to Japan are crazy about this fish.
The Goodness of Porgy
Called sea bream in Europe, Porgy is among the most plentiful, sustainable fish on the New York and Northeastern Atlantic Coast. Porgy is sweet and medium-fatty, has edible skin that gets nice and crispy, and is more affordable than other white fish varieties that are similar in flavor, such as red snapper. Argentina is the world’s major red porgy producer and sells frozen fish to markets in Europe, where the fish is highly regarded. Uruguay and Brazil also have commercial red porgy fisheries.
Porgy is a versatile fish and its mild flavor absorbs spices well, although a simple sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt will suffice. Porgy fillets and steaks can be stuffed and baked. Whole fish are good cooked on the grill or oven roasted; these methods soften the bones and allow the meat to slide off them more easily. Porgies can have tough, hard-to-scale-skin. It’s easiest to have the fish scaled before buying.
Types of Porgy
Red porgy have white, tender meat with a large flake and mild, sweet, but satisfying flavor, though its numerous small bones make it hard to fillet. Sheepshead porgy have always been highly regarded in the American South, where they are usually pan-fried. The fat-bodied Northern porgy has firm, flaky flesh, though it is quite bony. The plump, golden-silver Jolthead porgy, in the Gulf of Mexico, is delicious and beautiful.
Other Ways to Prepare Porgy
Greek-style: Simply pan-fried with sea salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil, red onions, garlic, white wine, lemon juice, oregano, rosemary, and butter.
Grilled: Serve whole grilled porgy over a bed of corn salad tossed in garlicky buttermilk dressing: a perfect summer meal!
Samke Harra (Lebanese Spiced Fish): Porgy with a classic Lebanese sauce of onions, walnuts, chopped cilantro, and chili.
Stuffed Porgy: Fill porgy fillets with capers, olives, and fresh herbs. Wrap the fillets in parchment or aluminum foil, bake for half an hour, then serve with lemon slices.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place the fish in a glass baking dish with sliced onions and crushed garlic cloves.
- Cut the tomatoes in half moons and the cucumbers in thin strips and add to dish. Sprinkle with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Serve hot with baked potatoes and a tomato salad.
|Calories90Calories from Fat45|
|% DAILY VALUE|
|Calories from Fat45|
|% DAILY VALUE|
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.