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Feb 27, 2010 02:57 AM

Ideas for smaller round fish

Dubai is starting to encourage using sustainable fish, rather than the much larger local favourites (which are becoming very scarce). In aid of this, the environmental service is putting out recipes developed by home cooks so that people can start using these fish. I'm participating in the recipe development effort.

So, I went off and got some of the little guys today. I bought three different species. They're pretty... little (not sardine sized by any means, but probably no more than a pound each - if that). Any suggestions for dealing with them? I bought them whole, even though the fish counters at the markets will do whatever you ask with them, because I wanted to play around. I'm thinking I can gut them and grill them whole, perhaps try filleting one or two of them out to see what size of meat I get for the effort, or perhaps gut and stuff.

What's your favourite way of preparing smaller round fish? Suggestions appreciated!

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  1. For the round fish I have cooked, sand dabs/sole/flounder, I revert to the simplest possible preparation: gut, rinse, season with sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, lightly dredge in flour mixed with some cornmeal & a few pinches of cayenne, then simply pan-fry in hot EVOO....serve with lemon wedges.

    There are various remoulades, home made tartar sauces, and complex butters to be had which add to the pleasure but for lovely fresh round fish I like to keep it simple.

    As for filleting... and I done it only once, it's possible but usually a real pain. Those round fish are thin and boney so the resulting fillets are small. But do try it, so you'll know.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      I like to take these small fish (porgies and bluefish are common in the NY area), gut them, slash the sides, then slap them on the grill...leaving the scales on. The fish cook quickly, no more than 5 minutes to a side, and the meat lifts right off the skin. No special seasonings are needed..I'm happy with a splash of lemon juice or a dab of olive oil...the pure fish taste comes through.

    2. I once had an oriental preparation (Lao or maybe Cambodian) in Sydney which knocked my socks off: deep fry whole until cooked, but not crisped through and through, then wok with hot and sweet chili pepper. Its kinda like a Cantonese "salt and pepper".
      I'm sure theres a bit more to it than that (I've tried duplicating it many times, always falling just short), including other seasonings, etc, but its quite simple.

      1. I did some Tilapia the other night that was delicious. Egg wash, then dipped in cornmeal mixed with rice flour and spices. Fried it up in some oil in the cast iron pan. Man was that good, and easy. Served it with some Tabasco sauce.

        1. They sound about the size of pompano and tilapia. A "pompano" search here produced 5 hits.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Joebob

            Pompano is great on the grill. Once my son was at a big Asian market...since we were planning to go fishing that afternoon, he decided to buy some fresh butterfish for bait. What he brought home was pompano..really nice and fresh...mis-labelled (and mis-priced) at $1.99/lb...Forget bait! I grilled them up for lunch on the spot...they were delicious!