The ocean's bounty


 I grew up eating small fish all my life, something like a porgy would have been considered huge in my childhood. Did we catch bigger fish? Yes occasionally but for the most part we really did not go out of our way to target them. What are you going to do with a 20 pound fish? The restaurants didn’t want it (they don’t filet fish in Croatia, ever) and we could not sell it locally. The really tiny fish, the size of bergals was what we ate most of the time. Brodetto or fish soup were staples, we rarely fried anything.

Most of the time we sold any fish with white flesh and kept what they called “wild” fish we caught on long line. Giant eels, massive skates, sand sharks and such. Maybe you will say that we did not know any better and that is why I hold them in such a high regard.

But living here I tried every fishing I can find. I generally never order meat when I go out to dinner, it’s usually fish. Last night our good  friends took my wife and I to Picolla Bussola in Westbury. The company was fantastic and the food did not disappoint. The Chilean sea bass was out of this world.

But before I got together with  friends I spent the morning in Catja Café ( )with SJ Chef de Cuisine Andrew Chase videotaping and photographing few recipes for future issues of the magazine. We made few dishes but the one I was most impressed with was a stuffed…….SKATE!

Holy crap, it was so good that I would put it on par with any fish I ever ordered in a restaurant. It also brought a lot of memories as it has been at least 20 years since I tasted its delicate meat. My grandparents were good cooks but they would have never thought of stuffing anything unless it was called a pepper. Our basic food way always boiled, boiled and boiled…and in the summertime grilled. Why? grilling was free with twigs from vineyard and wood from trees and wooden stove was cranking anyway in the winter. To use an oven would have meant to use electricity which in those days was very expensive.

Thanks Andrew to introducing me to something I’ve never even considered, a skate presented in such a way that could be served in any restaurant with pride. I think you guys are going to like it

18 comments on “The ocean's bounty

  1. Carl

    I love it and I’m really looking forward to see what else is new and different from the “usual”

    Ages ago as a kid , the first fish I ever caught surf fishing was a sea robin. I remember every detail about catching it ,more so than any fish since. Nowadays , catching a sea robin is kinda annoying. Why ?

    Sea robin , Skate , Dogfish ,, I’m open to the idea

  2. Allen W

    I was introduced to skate by my wife who grew up in France. I absolutely love the delicate flavor and texture of it. Looking forward to the video’s and articles by the SJ chef!

  3. jfisher

    Skate is delicious!

    You may want to look into the current state of Chilean Sea Bass stocks though.
    My understanding is that it is being seriously over-harvested if not already endangered.

  4. Don Brown

    Boy dose that bring back memories for me.Family members of mine who were from Italy would cut what they called scallops form the wings of skates.They were very tasty.They would do the same thing with Goosefish when i would bring one home for them from when i worked on a commercial fishing whole family loved it.

  5. John B

    The December Issue of “On the Water” had a good article on trash fish… skate, sea robins, and dogfish, all good table fare. The site “” has cleaning videos.

  6. jvukas

    my family is from croatia as well…and as a result, we’ve tried every species of fish (since the islands of croatia (Olib, Silba) hold mainly small species)…and I must say brodet(in a sauce) of sea robin is delicious, excellent white meat! (In europe sea robin is a more respected table fare)..And scalloped skate is excellent as well…and fried bergals or sundials were incredible…was better than killing a large striper for the table, and keeps it interesting…

  7. Liquid

    IMO no fish should be deemed garbage.. They all serve a purpose as we all do. In some countries people eat what folks in the US would only purchase as a pet in PetSmart. Oscars, Pacu, Triggers mmmm…mmmmm…mmmm don’t knock it till you’ve tried it..
    Sea Robin is very good.Believe me when i tell you I had to learn to like stripers. I still only like em grilled hard. Blacks & Blues are more tastier to me.

  8. Liquid

    p.s. had a friend of mine leave some freshly snagged bunkers in the freezer. Needless to say, his mom cooked it up.. She said it was ok but we couldnt stop laughing or tell her it was bait. Guess i’ll just take her word for it. Still hilarious

  9. rich m

    I love cooking fish,watch my facebook picture posts imalways looking for new ideas,looking forward to it!tell the chef If he is looking for someone to aprentis se end him my email

  10. richtrox

    I look forward to trying out the recipe. I love to cook and have been spending more time in the last couple years cooking “trash” fish. They don’t disappoint. Thanks Andrew and Z.

  11. Brian

    Ever since I went to the shad fest in Lambertville, Pa and had grilled shad, I have held almost every other fish in very high regard – from an epicurean standpoint. Loved the article and love that most Americans can’t get past their hang up that skate is a garbage fish – because that means more for me.


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