Merluzzo. This is still one of the cheapest fish on the market. At about a $1.99 a pound it’s a real bargain. It’s the only fish I remember my grandparents eating, aside from Baccala on the holidays. Back then they must have paid 25-50 cents a pound.
I could remember when the fish monger drove down my block on 77 Street. My grandmother would hear him coming and go out on her second floor porch to wave him down. He would stop in front of the house and I could remember the scale he used to weigh the fish swinging along side the truck. All the fish would be laying on ice as he opened the side panel of the truck to display his catch. My grandmother didn’t even leave the porch. He knew what she wanted. He would pick 5 or 6 nice whole merluzzo and clean and gut them right there. He weighed them on the scale and shouted out their weight to my grandmother in Italian. After the fish monger wrapped the fish in newspaper he walked it up the stairs to my grandmother’s house and she paid him. That’s just how it was.
This was one of my grandmother’s signature fish dishes. I used to enjoy eating this on Friday evenings when she made it. The whiting has a mild flavor and is a real firm textured white fish that goes so well with these fried onions in vinegar. Even as a child I enjoyed this dish.
I’ll never forget one year we had a guest from Italy visiting my grandparents. It was a summer afternoon and we were getting ready to go to Coney Island and enjoy a day at the beach. My grandmother packed a lunch for all of us of Merluzzi with onions and vinegar. I could remember sitting on the blanket and my mother taking out the plates and forks as she dished out this delicious seafood. Other people were eating hot dogs and knishes. We had a banquet of Merluzzi Fritti con Cipolle all ‘Aceto. With a loaf of Italian bread and a thermos of red wine, we dined on seafood at the seaside. That is what made us Italians different. We brought our good food where ever we went. Didn’t matter if it was the beach or the mountains. We ate good.
Merluzzi Fritti con Cipolle all’ Aceto
- 6 Whiting cleaned
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- salt & pepper to taste
- oil for frying
Place the flour on a flat plate. Season the fish on all sides with salt and pepper. Dredge the whiting in the flour to cover all sides. Shake off the excess flour.
Heat enough oil in a frying pan to go 1/2 inch up the sides. Fry the whiting until golden on all sides, about 3 minutes each side. Remove the whiting and place on a plate.
In another frying pan heat 1/4 cup of olive oil on medium heat. Cook the onions until tender. Do not brown. Add the vinegar and cook 1 minute. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat.
Place the whiting on a serving platter and top with the onion and vinegar mixture. This dish is best served at room temperature.