The Fish Market: An Exploration

[Ed note: I feel like this may need a disclaimer that the title’s not a euphemism? Gross. Another disclaimer: graphic fish images ahead!]

Part of my new life is that I can do things like go to the butcher and the fish market and the green grocer on an almost-daily basis. Except that I haven’t found a decent butcher in my hood. But yesterday I did go to the fish market, a kind of awe-inspiring place. Right there on Nostrand Avenue, between a hair store and a liquor store (I think?) is a salty-smelling haven of glassy-eyed fish luxuriating on beds of ice.

There were fishes I’ve never heard of (baby kingfish, which turns out to be a kind of whiting) and others I didn’t know people ate (angelfish). But I settled on bluefish. I have a fond memory of going deep-sea fishing with my dad, grandfather and uncle in Florida. I was a scrawny 10-year-old who caught a massive bluefish. My dad soaked it in milk to cut the oiliness before grilling it. He also cooked some of it with tapenade. Both were delicious and left me with a soft spot. Plus it was $1.99/pound, and it’s a great source of selenium. I don’t know what that is.

Although I was tickled by the idea of carrying home a giant fish and trying to fillet it with subpar knives, I got the guys there to cut it for me. To my great delight, they included the head. When I say I was delighted, I don’t mean because I actually had designs on cooking or eating it. I just had great fun trying to think of pranks I could pull and ways to dry and cure it to make a hat for Beatrice the cat. Because what could be funnier than a cat with a fish head on its head? Nothing, that’s what. After a quick photoshoot, I discarded the head, made a marinade of milk, lime, garlic, onions and cumin. About three hours later, I broiled my friend the bluefish with a little bit of salt. Perfection.

As for those fish I didn’t know so well, it turns out angelfish is often used for braai, or South African barbecue. This looks stupid-good. Watch out angelfishes. I’m coming for you.

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