Some delicious truths about the whole grilled fish served at Cashion’s Eat Place: It’s a signature of the D.C. restaurant, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Chef-partner John Manolatos might go with white perch, spot or porgy, depending on the season. The fish is stuffed with aromatics and topped with a quick, crunchy dressing that speaks of the Mediterranean.
And as much as patrons love it, they almost always defer to the kitchen for filleting duties. “Yeah, we bring it out for customers to see. Then they ask us to carve it up, so we take it back to the kitchen,” Manolatos says.
But he’s confident we can handle it at home.
Use a soup spoon and fork to create a center seam from below the eye to midtail.
Cut along the outer (stuffed) edge, then lift off the top fillet, exposing the skeleton. Carve around the skeleton to release it further; pull up the head to lift off the skeleton. Cut and release the remaining flesh.
Porgy Alla Salmoriglio
For the dressing:
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons ouzo
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large, thinly sliced shallot
1 chopped inner rib celery
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Prepare a grill for direct, medium-high heat, or heat a grill pan over high heat on the stove top. Use 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to rub all over 4 whole, cleaned porgies (about 1 pound each), then season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stuff each fish with a few thin slices of lemon, feathery fennel tops, fresh thyme and fresh dill.
2. Grill for 2 minutes to form light grill marks, then carefully give the fish a quarter-turn; grill for 2 minutes to create a crosshatch pattern. Turn the fish over; repeat for a total of 4 minutes on the second side. The meat of the fish should register 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, and feel firmer when gently pressed. Transfer to a platter to rest for 4 minutes.
3. Cut 1 or 2 lemons into thick wedges; grill for a few minutes on each cut side. Transfer to the platter.
4. Meanwhile, make the dressing: Whisk together lemon juice, ouzo, kosher salt, freshly ground white pepper and olive oil in a bowl until just emulsified. Stir in shallot, celery, dill and parsley.
5. Spoon the dressing over each fish. Serve with the grilled lemon wedges, for squeezing.