Saturday 13 June 2015

CORVINA - drum or croaker

I have often seen Corvina on sale in Spanish fish markets and supermarkets but they are too large for just two of us so I have been waiting for some unsuspecting visitors to try it out. A visit from Sue and Faith gave me that opportunity and I bought a fish weighing around 1 kilo for less than 5 Euros.

I was unfamiliar with Corvina as I have never seen it in the UK. Apparently some varieties can be caught off the southern coast of England and its English (and American) names are Drum or Croaker – apparently due to the noise they make. Some books give it the name Meagre in English and Maigre in French but I was none the wiser but my recipe books suggest that it can be treated like Sea bass or Grey Mullet.

Corvina is caught in Mediterranean and Atlantic waters and appears to be popular in Italy (Bocca d’oro), Tunisia (Lej), Turkey (Sanağiz) and Greece (Mayático aetós). Similar varieties are found in the South Atlantic and Pacific and in the US it is sometimes called Californian Sea bass. It is also eaten widely in South America and sometimes marketed as Chilean Sea bass, although this name is usually applied to Patagonian toothfish (which is on the endangered species list).

Regrettably, I did not photograph the beast either before or after cooking - but there will certainly be a next time!

I decided to roast mine whole and there proved to be plenty for four people.

I made a stuffing/marinade of olive oil, garlic, herbs, onion with lime juice and the zest of the lime and then wrapped the fish in foil and roasted in the oven at 180°C for 40 minutes, then unwrapped it and let cook for a further 5 minutes.

1 Corvina weighing app 1 kilo
4 tbsp Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
Small bunch parsley, chopped – about 4 – 6 tbsp
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (if you want stronger aniseed flavour, add a splash of Anis Seco/Pernod or similar)
½ teaspoon tarragon
Juice and zest of 1 lime

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Have the fish scaled, gutted and cleaned. Make three deep slashes on each side of the fish and sprinkle inside and out with sea salt; rub the fish with the marinade, forcing the herbs/garlic/onion mixture into the slashes and then fill the body cavity with the mixture. Place on a large piece of foil and fold loosely (to enable the fish to steam in the parcel). Place in the preheated oven for app 30-40 minutes, then open the parcel and allow to cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes – the flesh should be white and flaky.

Serve with the juices from the cooking, with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon and garnished with chopped parsley.

It went down very well with a bottle or two of chilled Albariño

John Austin
Santa Pola, June 2015