People who know my husband don’t even say hello this time of year; they go right to what matters: “Ya got any yet?”
There are fishermen and there are fishermen, and then there’s my husband, who, upon early July, (It is said that the bluefish arrive on Cape Ann just after St. Peter’s Fiesta), rises every single morning at 4 o’clock and drives to his appointment with the fish, or not. I wake early, too, but by the time I’m having coffee my husband already has stories to tell.
Maybe he’s making up for his fish-less childhood in New Jersey, but I only know a few men with this kind of drive/psychosis, and I promise you, they know each other. They are there with him in the near darkness. Even the seagulls think they’re nuts. There have been summers I am awakened every morning by the hisssss of running water over new arrivals. Every morning I come down to the kitchen to find two – if not four – glistening fillets on the kitchen counter. There have been summers when I had to seriously ask, is it ok to eat this much bluefish?
That was the summer that inspired us to buy the “The Bluefish Cookbook,” which includes a recipe for steaming it in your dishwasher.
We decided to limit bluefish to twice a week; it’s a migratory fish, at the top of the food chain, and therefore can accumulate toxins like mercury. Yeah, I know what you’re saying – bluefish, twice a week? But have you ever eaten bluefish in the evening which had been swimming in the morning? Bluefish that fresh is almost indisinguishable from what’s in a fish market, which in Gloucester was probably swimming the day before. Bluefish that fresh is light, creamy, as ready as any white-fleshed fish for kitchen treatment. We took into account our relatively organic diet the rest of the year, and the fact that we don’t eat bluefish twelve months straight, and went on grilling.
Not every summer is the same. Last summer it rained so much that people said the salinity of the ocean had been altered, and the fish weren’t there. I actually bought bluefish once in the market. My husband was so offended he wouldn’t let us eat it.
In this household, summer officially began yesterday, July 22nd, with the arrival on the kitchen counter of the season’s first. Thirty inches from tail to tooth, this guy was a prize. If this summer is like others, by the end we will be preparing it with light asian sauces, spreading it with pesto, chunking it into a salad with fresh tomato and onion, smoking it, and then making pates.
But, with a sense of ritual surrounding the sea’s first gift, we treated him with the favorite family recipe: combining equal parts of mayonaise and pommery mustard, spreading all over the fillet, laying it on aluminum foil, and cooking it over high heat, covered, on the grill. It sounds rich, tastes French, but remember, bluefish this fresh is actually light; It’s very happily married to what, if you’re feeling Yankee is almost tartar sauce, and if you’re feeling chic is a remoulade.
If the year is good, bluefish-willing friends and family will see my husband coming with his cooler. Let me know if you want to be on the list. If it’s a good year, we’ll all need a lot of bluefish recipes; to be continued.