Eat this Now: Redfish

With everything from bluefin tuna to winter flounder on watch lists, eco-minded chefs and diners are always looking for sustainable local seafood options. A promising prospect is Acadian redfish, one of the few populations of native groundfish — species that thrive in deeper, colder waters — that are now considered quite healthy. “For a while, it was very overfished,” explains Jim Turner of Turner’s Seafood Grill and Market in Melrose. “Now it’s one of the success stories of the population-management plans.” Adds Kathi Turner, his wife: “Redfish is mostly caught as bycatch. It’s often caught with large groundfish, and sometimes gets stuck to the nets because of its spikes.” While restaurant customers aren’t exactly biting just yet, creative chefs are having fun with the small, firm, mild-tasting fish. Seth Morrison of the Gallows has been cooking it up with baked beans, roasted root vegetables, and braised mustard greens (above). Lumière’s Michael Leviton, who prefers the cleaner flavor of hooked redfish to the net-caught bycatch, usually prepares it much like black sea bass, leaving the skin on and crisping it in a pan. Turner’s, meanwhile, will likely toy with several recipes throughout the winter. “We might blacken it to try something different,” Jim Turner says. “It’s a very adaptable fish.”