Scup… weird word, right? I first encountered this fish at the Boston Public Market when it was on special. Naturally, I bought it, because cheap local fish can’t be too bad. After doing some research, I learned that scup is a fish found locally along the east coast that comparable to tilapia, though a little thicker and more flavorful. While a few recipes suggested using it in ceviche because it literally just came in from the Atlantic Ocean, most places recommended battering and frying the fish. Sounds delicious, but not healthy or easy- which is what I was hoping for! Since I was concerned that, like tilapia, scup may turn out to be kind of mushy and boring, I didn’t want to just go straight for seasoning and searing the fish like I would salmon, though I did want to take advantage of the skin. So, I decided to coat the fish in a very light breadcrumb coating, like you might do with catfish, and pan-fry in a thin layer of canola oil. It turned out quite well and was very easy to assemble, despite having to remove some pin bones, which is kind of a pain (though it’d be a lot more of a pain to remove the pin bones from your mouth later!). It was perfect with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sea salt.
I paired the scup with some local asparagus, which is in season, prepared using the fabulous broiling method that I have discussed a few times before.
While at the market, I also bought some gorgeously green arugula-flavored fresh pasta from Nella Pasta. The packaging actually said to serve with just butter or olive oil, so that’s precisely what I did. The half-pound that I bought for just about $3 lasted for three lunches- not bad for supporting a local business! If you’re ever in the downtown Boston area, I’d definitely recommend picking some up. My lunch was healthy, well-rounded, completely local (even the flour I used to coat the fish was local!), and I was one happy dietitian.
- 1/2 lb scup or other white fish, skin on
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- Salt, pepper, Old Bay, and/or dried herbs, to taste
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- Lemon, for serving
- Thoroughly dry off the scup with paper towels. Feel for and remove any pinbones using either your fingers or pliers. Place the olive oil on one plate and the flour on another. Add any seasonings you'd like to the flour, but be heavy-handed since the fish itself is so mild.
- Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Dip the fish in olive oil first, letting any excess drip off. Then, coat the fish in the seasoned flour and set aside.
- When all fillets are coated and the oil is very hot, place the fish in a single layer, carefully, skin-side-down in the skillet. Let sear without moving for about 3-4 minutes or until brown and crispy, then flip and sear on the other side for another 2-3 minutes or until cooked through (about 130F internally).
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges and sea salt.