By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
And just like that, White Marlin Open week is upon us.
The speed at which time flies astounds me. I’m not sure what makes me more tired: the actual work of working a lot, or just getting old from all the years that have flown by unsuspectingly.
I start teaching in the University of Maryland System in a few weeks, and once again, how in the name of all that’s holy did the summer fly by so fast? It’s exhausting just thinking about it.
But here I am, sitting at the Marlin Club and trying to take care of business, knocking this out and, of course, not fishing the tournament for the first time in years.
I just have too much going on, and truth be told, it saves me a nice chunk of money so all in all it’s a win-win scenario.
You won’t hear a complaint about me sitting in the club and writing, though.
It is a beautiful building and I have enjoyed being a member here. It’s just a great place with some fantastic members.
But there I go wandering off again. Sometimes I feel like that ’90s show that was a show about nothing. Most days, I feel that is what this column is — a bunch of nothing tied up at the end with few if any proper segues and resolution in the form of a literary punch in the snout at the end.
I go back on a rare occasion and read columns written years ago and they make me laugh. Some are well articulated, while others are pretty much eight hundred words of gibberish pertaining to my dog or cats or kids.
And the very last sentence will say something like “now here’s a recipe for lasagna. Go make it.” I can’t do it all, and as these are often written late at night or well before dawn, I am not always on my game, as it were.
So today I am going to ease you into the recipe at hand. I am going to share with you one of my favorite fish to work with: the bronzino.
Sometimes we get to work with a fish that just makes us happy inside, and the mighty bronzino meets the criteria. In case you are wondering, those criteria are ease of use, taste, texture and smell. Yep, bronzino is right there at the top.
Also on my favorite fish list are golden tile, snakehead, wahoo and bigeye tuna. Yep. I love getting my hands on these when fresh.
The bronzino is a lovely fish because of how delicate it can be. At my Berlin restaurant, we roast it whole, head-on in the brick oven.
At other spots, I like to pan sear / pan roast and grill if the grates are thin and close together. You just want to make sure that it doesn’t break up and fall through the grates.
For this dish, an incredibly simple Mediterranean-inspired bean stew makes the perfect base for the fish. I used Gigantes Beans, which are used in Greek cooking quite a bit.
Imagine if a lima bean and a fava bean had a baby, and the flavor was much more resembling of the fava. They are meaty yet light, and delicious to work with.
The beans can be sourced online, and just follow the instructions but if you have cooked any beans, you can master these in an instant.
And when the dust settles from tournament season, and it is time to start eating more meals at home instead of on the run, I will need to cook this again.
Of course, I’ll wake up in three years and wonder why I haven’t yet, and also where the time has gone.
4 ea. 1# bronzino, or 8 cleaned
filets, skin-onGarlic oil, as needed
Brown butter, as needed
Seasoning blend of your choice, as needed
4 c. Gigantes bean stew (recipe follows)
4 ea. Grilled lemon slices
- Pat the filets and season. Don’t go too far overboard as this is a thin fish. Too much and it will be a salt lick.
- Heat a 50/50 mix of butter and oil in an oven-safe pan and place the filets in their skin side down.
- Remove from the heat and place in a 400F oven and cook for about 5 minutes or until done. Every oven is different.
- While the fish is cooking, reheat the bean stew and keep hot.
- Simply place a cup of bean stew in each bowl or plate, and top with the fish, garnishing with the lemon slices.
- Drizzle with a touch of brown butter, and serve.
Gigantes Bean Stew
makes about 1 quart
1 c. Dry white wine
1 c. Cooked gigantes beans
1 ea. Heirloom tomato, peeled and seeded
2 c. Good quality seafood stock
2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
fine rind of ½ lemon
1 3-inchp piece carrot, small dice
1/4 c. Finely julienne leeks
1 c. Fresh spinach leaves (optional)
- Place the wine in a hot pan large enough to hold everything else, and reduce by two-thirds.
- Combine everything else in the pan and allow to cook for at least an hour so the flavors marry.
- Adjust the seasoning with some salt and freshly cracked pepper.
- Make sure that the beans are tender, and hold until service.
— Paul Suplee is the owner of boxcar40,
boxcar on main, boxcar crafted events and sportfish catering.