Earlier this week we went fishing off the rocks – the East Wall in Point Judith. Bill actually did most of the fishing, as it's a little dangerous for the kids to be reeling fish in and standing on the wet rocks while the waves crash against them. But the kids played on the sand and calmer water on the other side of the wall and occasionally Alex would get to reel in a fish part way, and then Bill would take over so the fish wouldn't smash and scrape against the rocks.
Most of the fish we caught (okay, I say "we" but like I said, Bill did most of the actual fishing and I took pictures and kept an eye on the kids) were too small to keep, but there was one scup that, at 10 1/2 inches from lip to tip of tail, was a keeper.
Scup (Stenotomus chrysops, if you want to get technical), also commonly called porgy, are a mild-tasting fish found along much of the Atlantic coast. They're usually found along the ocean floor or alongside rocky areas, and they are pretty agressive little feeders. Fun to catch and nice to cook – you can do just about anything with them. We've even had scup sashimi with our own freshly caught fish.
Back to this lone little guy…
Bill cleaned it while we were there,
and on the ride home we were trying to figure out what we'd do with the small amount of actual flesh we'd have to eat. I suggested fish cakes, because that's what I tend to do with any small amounts of leftover fish (or lobster) we have on hand. And then I thought "they'd be scupcakes!" and that was pretty much that.
And here's the recipe I came up with:
(I used Kenyon's, which I use for johnny cakes, because it's produced right here in RI and it's what I grew up with. Hm. I need to do a johnnycake post, don't I?)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper
a sprinkling of dried tarragon
1 cup boiling water
and the diced flesh of one scup
The water needs to be boiling hot in order to soften the stoney-hard cornmeal. I should have waited before adding the baking powder to it, as moisture and heat activate the powder, but it didn't seem to affect the outcome, so maybe not.
Anyway, whisk all the dry ingredients together,
add the boiling water and let it sit for a bit to soften the cornmeal. Stir it around a bit to cool it down, and then mix in the eggs.
Spoon the batter into greased muffin or cupcake tins (I used mini-muffin tins)
and bake at 400 degrees F until a toothpick or sharp knife inserted in the center of one comes out clean.
Mine didn't brown as I was hoping they would, but they browned a little. I also brushed the tops with some melted butter partway through the baking.
I mixed up a quick "frosting" of mayo and ketchup and red pepper relish and some finely diced onion, though they didn't really need a sauce – they tasted pretty good on their own. Kind of like a cornmeal muffin with bits of fish mixed in. Only not as sweet as a muffin. (I know, my descriptive powers are stunning.)
Not a bad way to use a single small fish!