I think I have a knack for glamorous titles, don’t you? For glamorous pictures too!
You know a city is becoming yours when you’ve found a quality fishmonger willing to sell you fish heads on the cheap. You’ve positively conquered the place when you get them for FREE. Which I did. I’m expecting the Mayor to hand over a key to the city any time now.
Lucky duck that I am, this past week I met a lovely woman who works for Grow NYC, the non-profit that organizes New York City Greenmarkets (aka Farmer’s Markets), educational outreach, composting, and much more. Aforementioned lovely woman is a director of one of Brooklyn’s Greenmarkets, which puts her in tight cahoots with a couple fishmongers. Voila, free fish heads! The bluefish had been caught the day before and were practically still wriggling (just the way you want them!). Along with my fish heads came the generous gift of a fresh sea scallop. Who knew raw fish could be so delicious? Suddenly I understand sushi…
To be honest, my prior experience with seafood is a tad limited. At home we eat tilapia, shrimp, and salmon and that’s about it. When I’m at school I’m landlocked and in the middle of nowhere; fish options are scarce. So a caveat of my moving to NYC was the promise I made to myself to eat a lot of seafood. I’d say a bulging bag of fish heads is a good place to start.
Isn’t he pretty? I have many plans for my fish heads. I expect a prosperous and creative future with them. But we begin as one should – simply. Roasting fish heads with a little salt, pepper, fresh herbs, and a squeeze of citrus is a testament to their inherent beauty. The fish soups and stews and salads will come later. For now I’m hunkering down with some buttered turnips, a large salad, and a crispy fish head. Warning: the following recipe and my account of enjoying its results are not for the squeamish or the meek. Forge ahead if you are bold, if you are adventurous, if you would do anything for food.
Oven-Roasted Blue Fish Head
- 1 fish head, cleaned and cut almost in half from the mouth to the collar
- 1 small lemon, sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pepper and salt to taste
- chopped green onions
- fresh basil slivers
Preheat your oven to 425. Pat fish dry with a paper towel. Line a baking sheet (or an oven-safe skillet if you don’t have one, like me) with foil, and rub with half the olive oil. Place fish on foil and stuff cavity with lemon slices. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the skin is slightly charred, very crispy, and you can hear popping and spitting from within the oven. Remove to a plate and garnish with green onions and fresh herbs.
Dive in! And I mean that. You’re going to have to dive in. I keep a bones bowl at my elbow to help with the messy process. You have to pick and forage, and stare that fish right in the eye, but it’s actually quite fun if you like that sort of thing (I do). There is nothing like freshly roasted fish. I’m still drooling, I tell you.