When chef Andrea Reusing opens The Durham, her new restaurant in the forthcoming boutique hotel of the same name in Durham, North Carolina, this spring, she’ll be focusing on North Carolina seafood—which non-coastal parts of the state don’t often see. “We’re two hours from the coast,” she says, “so we’re going to do a lot of seafood that doesn’t make it in off the coast normally. The distribution channels are up by I-95, so everything goes to New York. You guys get our soft-shell crabs sometimes before we get them.” In preparation for opening, Reusing has been developing relationships with fishermen who’ll deliver fresh seafood straight to Durham. Here, she shares five of the fish she’s most excited to serve.
1. Spotted/speckled seatrout
Mostly caught hook and line, it's not actually a trout but a member of the noisy drum family and has an early diet of shrimp and other crustaceans before eventually turning on its fellow fish. It’s almost like a white salmon, with sweet, firm meat and a fatty belly. Serve it raw—cured with salt, lemon and seaweed—or baked whole, stuffed with toasted bread, butter and herbs.
Considered overfished in the '90s, the porgy population has since rebounded, increasing by 30 times between 1997 to 2008. Lean, finely textured, mild but with a meatier taste than, say, flounder, porgies are a “fisherman's fish,” easily cooked whole in a pan. Dredge the dressed fish in fine cornmeal and pan fry in bacon fat alongside whole scallions.