A warm Spring like this one gets everyone excited about the summer. I can’t wait to get back on the water this summer. Some clamming on Hallock’s Bay and later a little fishing for striped bass or fluke, if we are lucky. I was recently inspired by Martin Garrell’s piece in the Suffolk Times about a cod trip he took to Block Island. I have been dreaming about cod fishing ever since I read Cod: The History of the Fish that changed the world by Mark Kurlansky. Until I can someday find a cod excursion, I am happy to “settle” for the delicate white flesh of the striped bass or fluke right in our back yard.
The great thing about the North Fork is that you don’t even need to have a boat to harvest the waters. You can dig for clams at low tide with your feet or with a rake. And there are several beaches where you can see the striped bass jumping out of the water waiting for you to cast your line. Or you can go on an expedition with any number of charters like Libby Koch’s H2O Hospitality. She’ll take you out on her boat, Category One, for a three hour excursion and show you her secret spots that hold the North Fork’s finest mollucks and bivalves.
Even shopping for digging and fishing gadgets is an outing on the North Fork. Right on the docks of Greenport we have some of the oldest American Marine Supplies providers like Prestons and White’s Hardware. Between these two stores you can buy anything from a clamming rake to waders, shucking or fishing equipment and navigation maps.
Whether you buy or catch your own fish, you should try this recipe for striped bass with chimichurri. This meal will be the perfect accompaniment to a bottle of Paumanok Riesling, named by the Wall Street Journal‘s blind tasting, led by Hugh Johnson, as one of the nation’s top 12 wines, “Luxury dozen”
Catch of the Day Recipe: feeds up to four people, preheat oven or grill to 425 degrees
1 ½ lb of Striped bass (always fresh at Southold Fish Market)
2 tablespoons of EVOO
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (try Amagansett Sea Salt)
Sprigs of your favorite fresh herbs. (I prefer lighter herbs like chives, parsley or dill for the delicate flavors of Striped Bass or Fluke. If you have Bluefish, you can use some stronger herbs like sage and Greek Oregano.)
Procedure: Pat down your filets with paper towels to make sure they are dry. If a filet is humid it won’t develop a golden crust. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Place filets into hot pan, skin side down and cook for 3 minutes on medium to high heat to crisp the skin. Then flip onto flesh side. Add herb sprigs and a drizzle of olive oil and place pan in the oven or covered grill top for additional 7 to 15 minutes depending on how well done you like your fish. White fish should be removed while the flesh is still glistening as it will continue to cook while resting. I cook mine to medium rare (140 degrees). Serve with side dishes of fresh herb orzo and grilled asparagus with truffle oil.