There are certain fish we all know the names of: salmon, bass, tuna, halibut. They're well known because they're delicious, which is as good a reason as any, and because, for years, they were plentiful. But as overfishing becomes more and more of a global issue, it's increasingly important to find out what's swimming in our local waters. Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn shared with us the names of some of the most plentiful, sustainable fish on the Northeastern Coast--porgy, summer flounder, tilefish, and squid--and we're excited to try them in the seafood dishes we already love, in place of less local fish.
If you don't live on the East Coast, you can still borrow Edible's tips: Ask the person who sells you your seafood to help you find a locally caught fish with a flavor and texture similar to the fish in the recipe you want to make.
Call up your fishmonger and try these 8 recipes with sustainable, local fish:
Use porgy (also called "scup" or "bream") instead of catfish or snapper: Porgies are fairly small fish, growing only as large as 4 pounds, and their white flesh is fairly delicate. Purchase and cook them whole (they're pretty bony). Panfrying, grilling, baking, and roasting are all good approaches to take.
Use summer flounder (also called "fluke") instead of cod or sole: Summer flounder is a flat fish with very delicate white flesh. Purchase it whole and sing its praises for its versatility: It grills and bakes well, but is also delicious panfried or deep-fried. You can also shred it into flakes for tacos or fish sticks.
Use tilefish instead of dover sole or black sea bass: This fish has a fairly firm flesh--and it is delicious when prepared simply, with butter and lemon. (But that's no reason not to gild the lily.) It should be noted that tilefish tends to have a higher mercury content.
Use local squid instead of imported squid or octopus: Squid is cheap, plentiful, and always in season. Buy whole squids (not just the calamari rings), and prepare it by grilling, quick-frying, stewing, or roasting. Serve it with lemon--it's as good as it gets.
Illustration by Chloe Hoeg for Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn; photo of Whole Baked Fish in Sea Salt with Gremolata by Mark Weinberg; photo of White Fish Escabeche Tacos by Bobbi Lin; photo of Seafood, Fennel, and Lime Salad by Richard Learoyd; photo of Squid with Watercress Salsa Verde by Max Kelly; all others by James Ransom