Sea robins aren’t just bait thieves. In the latest episode of Fresh Catch, Adam Geringer-Dunn from Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. proves that although they aren’t exactly Instagram-friendly, sea robins are delicious.
These aesthetically terrifying creatures got a bad rap because they’re often caught by fishermen who are seeking fluke. They live in the same areas as fluke, and mostly eat the same diet of small fish and crabs. Because of this, they have similarly delicate flavors, but with a meaty texture and thicker skin. They get their name from their big, wing-like fins.
Historically, they’ve often been discarded in the U.S. Their large, bony skulls led would-be cooks to believe that the fish didn’t have much meat on them. In fact, their tails carry two thick, meaty fillets. In France, sea robins have been starring in bouillabaisse for ages.
But Geringer-Dunn thinks that sea robins deserve a chance on plates in the U.S., as well. The preparation isn’t harder than a more familiar fish. To get to the filets, first descale the fish. Geringer-Dunn used a specialty fish descaler, but the same effect can be achieved with a sharp kitchen knife. Next, place a knife below the head, cut in, and slide the knife down the body of the fish to remove the filets in one clean motion. A sharp knife is essential. The skin is on a sea robin is a little thick, so it’s not ideal for raw preparations, but could work with a nice sear. For this preparation, Adam discarded the skin. For ambitious chefs, reserve the roe sac to eat on buttered toast, and keep the skeleton for making stock.
To make a quick ceviche, Geringer-Dunn cubed the fresh sea robin filets. The cubes should be small enough that more than one can fit on a spoon. Toss the fish in a bowl, and flavor with whatever you please. Citrus juice is the essential ingredient to make this a ceviche, and Geringer-Dunn’s simple preparation uses lime juice, red onion, blood oranges, a lovely orange-infused olive oil, mint, cilantro, and Maldon salt. Toss the ingredients together lightly. Letting the ceviche sit in the fridge for a few hours will give the fish time to absorb some of the lime juice flavors, but it isn’t strictly mandatory. Dig right in with a spoon or, better yet, a corn chip.
To see this process in action, check out the video above. For more lessons in seafood, head to Eater’s Facebook page Thursdays at 11 a.m. to catch new episodes of Fresh Catch. Each week Geringer-Dunn will walk live viewers through preparation of a sustainable fish, mollusk, crustacean, or bivalve.
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