Fish Report No. 1: C&M in Pomona

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A few posts back, I mentioned <a href=”http://lizjohnson.lohudblogs.com/2006/08/21/going-fishing/” target=”_blank”> wanting to know where to buy fish. </a> This weekend, I went to C&M Seafood in Pomona (Route 202 and Route 45, Pomona. 845-354-1161).

I was impressed. One great thing: Tuna not yet cut. I like to ask for steaks at least two inches thick, because I like to sear them over very high heat and keep them rare in the center. At C&M, you can watch as they’re cut.

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You can also help yourselve to the oysters, clams and mussels, all of which are living in a frosty bed of ice on the far wall.

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I like the selection, too. Halibut, grouper or snapper? Tuna, swordfish or salmon? One minor complaint: not too many whole fish. Though to be fair, I didn’t ask whether they were available in the back.

I did ask for a recommendation, though, and was pleasantly surprised. I told the fishmonger I was interested in cooking the filet en papillote — meaning steamed in parchment paper. (Though I used foil.) He suggested a couple of different possibilites for me, including poddock, halibut and grouper. I went with the grouper.

The usual kitch decorates the shop: Hanging nets, oars and other nautical items, but all in all it’s a clean shop with a nice selection and friendly service.

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Here’s how I cooked the fish, from a Food&Wine recipe in the February, 2003 issue. It took about 20 minutes and tasted like it took all day. I highly recommend it:

Papillotes of Sea Bass in Red Curry Sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
1 teaspoon sugar
4 (6-ounce) skinless white-fleshed fish fillets, such as sea bass, grouper or halibut
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sprigs of basil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, red curry paste and sugar and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. You should have about 3/4 cup of sauce. Remove from heat.

Cut four 20-inch sheets of heavy duty aluminium foil or parchment paper. Set 1 sheet on a work surface and turn up the edges slightly to make a shallow bowl so the curry sauce won’t leak out. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the sauce on 1 side of the sheet and set a fish fillet on top. Season with salt and pepper and spoon 2 more tablespoons of the sauce on top. Top with a basil sprig. Fold the foil over the fish and, starting at one corner, fold the edge over itself in neat pleats so it slightly overlaps the previous one to make a tight seal. Repeat with the remaining curry sauce, fish fillets and basil.

Slide the papillotes onto a cookie sheet and bake them on the bottom rack of the oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until puffed. Remove from the oven and let stand 2 minutes.

Food&Wine says to put the papillotes in a bowl and open them up so people can eat the fish right out of their packages. But I made mine in foil and I don’t want my fork scraping against foil as I’m eating, so I used a spatula to transfer the fish onto a plate. Then I made a spout out of the foil and poured the extra sauce on top. However you want to do it: it tastes great.

Yield: 4 servings.

To drink: Food&Wine recommends drinking a pinot blanc or chenin blanc from the Loire Valley.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.