This month, we’re rounding one of the two main seasons for a fish prized in the fishing world and restaurant industry for its taste: the pompano. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s worth looking for on menus of finer restaurants or ordering it from sources like Delcambre Direct Seafood.
A member of the jack family, (including amberjack) pompano is a salt-water fish characterized by its blue-greenish silver dorsal, a silver to yellowish body and fins, and a funny little underbite- although they don’t have teeth. While it averages 1 ½ to 3 pounds, this fighting fish has been known to reach 9 pounds and 26 inches in length. This is a fast-growing fish, reaching 8-12 inches in its first year, and lives for about 3 to 4 years.
Pompano is a mild fish that has an opaque, firm, white meat that melts in your mouth when grilled or broiled – although it can be prepared other ways. Chefs revere it for its distinct sweet, almost nutty flavor that the fish develops from a diet of mainly crab and small shrimp.
“I’d compare them to Mahi-mahi or snapper in taste and texture,” says Bryan Mobley, owner of Corina, Corina Seafood, LLC. in Galliano and a supplier of pompano for Delcambre Direct Seafood. Fresh frozen and on the half shell, pompano from Delcambre Direct Seafood were caught by local fishermen in Breton Sound and Chandeleur Sound on the Louisiana/Mississippi Coast, and reeled in at what Mobley considers an ideal size of 12 to 14”, or about 1 ½ to 2 pounds.
First-time eaters of pompano will be happy to know that it’s not only delicious, but a great choice for those following a healthy diet.
A 90-gram filet contains about 185 calories and provides 40 percent of regular protein. It contains hi(gh levels of phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B1, B12, and vitamin A, copper, and potassium – and is a perfect source of amino acid. More than half is made up of fats – monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated. (Unsaturated fat is essential to improving cognitive function and fighting bad cholesterol.)
Note: Pompano does contain some mercury, so limit its weekly intake.
This is not a very thick fish, so it doesn’t take a long time to cook. While many cook it with skin down, Chef Michael Regua, Executive Chef of Antoine’s in New Orleans who’s cooked the famed Pompano Pontchartrain for 49 years, says to cook the fish skin side up first. That way when the flesh is cooked and you flip the fish, the skin will get crispy but the fish won’t turn up. He recommends searing it in a pan 4-5 minutes on each side.
Chef Rob McDaniel, a semifinalist in the James Beard Foundation Best Chef: South has recommended brushing each side of the filets with peanut oil and getting the grill to 600 degrees so that the cook time is quick. (Peanut oil has a higher cook point.) He says that grilling pompano at lower temps for a longer time pulls the moisture out of the fish.
The beauty of pompano is that it’s easy to cook and taste best with fewer ingredients. So, order some from Delcambre Direct Seafood and enjoy!