Learn how to make good on ‘trash fish’

Dog­fish, drum, sea robin — em­brace the idea that “one man’s trash is an­other man’s trea­sure” and sam­ple some so-called “trash fish.”

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Emily Ryan

“I like the term un­der­loved fish,” said Pa­trick Byrne, pro­pri­etor of Gen­eral War­ren in Malvern. “An­other great term to use for trash fish is fish­er­man’s din­ner or fish­er­man’s lunch.”

And what bet­ter time to try these of­ten over­looked fish than Na­tional Seafood Month?

“Some­times we say rough fish be­cause it’s not ap­peal­ing or ap­pe­tiz­ing. No one wants to eat trash,” ex­plained ex­ec­u­tive chef Chi­wishi Joy Ab­ney, an in­struc­tor at the Wayne Art Cen­ter in Wayne. “A lot of them are scav­engers, so they’re re­ally looked down upon.”

Grow­ing up, her grand­mother made de­li­cious fried porgy.

“We’re kind of pres­sured by what is pop­u­lar,” Ab­ney said. “I think it’s our job as cooks to re­ally of­fer some in­sight and va­ri­ety to the plate.”

“Chefs to­day are so much more cre­ative and think­ing out­side the box,” agreed Byrne. “Drum fish used to be a bait.”

As a young chef, he re­mem­bers restau­rants dis­cov­er­ing fluke, “a thick floun­der” that was “as cheap as can be.”

“Ev­ery­thing cy­cles,” Byrne noted. “His­tory re­peats it­self on ev­ery level, and that in­cludes food.”

One way to trans­late the trend at home: Use lesser­known fish in an au­tumn seafood stew, fea­tur­ing spiced car­rot puree.

“With that base, any of the lower-end fish would go well with it be­cause there’s a lot go­ing on,” said Josh Smith, Gen­eral War­ren’s ex­ec­u­tive chef, who men­tioned skate wing, which is “ba­si­cally a baby stingray,” and cat­fish.

“Cat­fish is an­other big one that’s un­der­uti­lized and pi­geon-holed into one way you can make it,” he de­scribed. “You could add it to a bouil­l­abaisse or a fish stew.”

Ab­ney’s also a cat­fish fan.

“There’s a sweet­ness to it and a crispi­ness, de­pend­ing on how you cook it. Cat­fish is of­ten fried down South,” she said. “Grits or po­lenta would be nice, lots of fresh herbs.”

There truly are plenty of fish in the sea. So don’t be afraid to look be­yond shrimp or salmon and talk some trash ... fish that is.

“To of­fer some­thing beau­ti­fully pre­sented and fresh from the wa­ter, you can’t beat that.”

Au­tumn Seafood Stew IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

Fresh fish Sea­sonal veg­eta­bles Spiced car­rot puree: 6 cups car­rots, small dice

3 ta­ble­spoons shal­lots, small dice 1 ta­ble­spoon gar­lic 5 star anise 4 bay leaves 1 bot­tle (750ml) sparkling cider 4 cups wa­ter 2 cups blood orange juice (may sub­sti­tute orange juice)

2 tea­spoons salt


Place star anise and bay leaves in a cheese­cloth sa­chet. Com­bine all in­gre­di­ents in a medium-sized saucepan and sim­mer on a medium heat un­til ten­der. Trans­fer mix­ture to a blender and puree.

Once the puree has been pre­pared, it is time for the fish. You may use any af­ford­able fresh fish that you find at the mar­ket. Cod or pol­lock are both great af­ford­able fish that the av­er­age home chef can pre­pare. Sim­ply pat the fish dry and sprin­kle with salt and pep­per. Heat a large sauté pan up over a medium heat and add 3 ta­ble­spoons of veg­etable oil. Gin­gerly add the fish to the hot pan. Sear the fish for ap­prox­i­mately 4 min­utes per side or un­til cooked through. Re­move from the heat and add a ta­ble­spoon of but­ter. Swirl the fish around gen­tly in the but­ter. Heat the car­rot broth and add your fa­vorite sea­sonal veg­eta­bles. Roasted pota­toes, parsnips, cipollini onions and kale work very well, but let your tastes and cre­ativ­ity be your guide.

To serve, sim­ply scoop 4 ounces of the puree into a shal­low bowl, ar­range your veg­eta­bles to your lik­ing and place your but­tered fish on top.



Ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent fish in a sim­ple, col­or­ful au­tumn seafood stew. “You can get this from the re­frig­er­a­tor to the ta­ble in about an hour,” says Josh Smith, ex­ec­u­tive chef at Gen­eral War­ren in Malvern.


Reg­is­tered di­eti­tian-nu­tri­tion­ist Emma Fogt pre­pares fish for a class at the Wayne Art Cen­ter.

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