|Fresh Corvina from the Fishmonger|
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Cat reig, OCat reche, reyg, L. Argyrosomus regius, Eng. maigre, meager. It is also called a croaker for the noise it makes when savaging for food. It is a big European fish with skin like the sturgeon and the brown maigre. The English name is derived from meager day or fast day when it was prohibited to eat meat.
Although Vilanova advised against eating them for their large size and tough skin, they are valued food and cooked like chicken. They can weigh up to 48 k (100 lbs) and grow to 1.9 m long but they usually weigh 15-35 lbs. An excellent catch weighs some 60 lbs and is about 5’ long. Although there are some 160 species, in general, they have a large salmon-colored mouth and pearly-silver body. Every fourth scale is at a different angle.
Large schools live in the Atlantic in warmer water south of England and in the Mediterranean especially off the African coast where they were abundant during 15-16 C. Andalusians have fished for them in the Straits of Gibraltar and on the Atlantic for time immemorial. Although far away, the sailors also fished for maigers with nets in the waters of Sidi Ifni, at the mouth of Lac d’Ifni and the banks of Bojador Cape in Africa.
They live between 30-40 meters below sea level near the coasts. Maigres eat gray mullets, sardines and shoaling estuarine fish. They have sharp teeth extending down both sides of the throat. With the muscles next to the swim bladder, they make a noise like a drum and can be heard up to 30 meters away. They are heard particularly when spawning.
Vilanova advised that it should be hung to tenderize it. Villena prescribed carving the meat lengthwise like sturgeon, except that the meager does not have cartilage. See corvallo, esturión and
[Corbera. 1979:166; ES: Horton. Nov 26, 03; and Gázquez. Cocina. 2002:235 and and Villena/Calero. 2002:38a]
MAIGRE WITH A COMMON SWEET AND SOUR PEPPER SAUCE ADAPTED FROM SENT SOVÍ
PARLA CON SA DEU FREE PEBRADA COMUNA, p 213
1 lb maigre
1 tbsp olive oil
For the sauce:
0.8 oz black peppercorns
1 oz gr toasted almonds
1 c broth
2 slices of bread
1/3 c vinegar
½ c honey or sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch cardamon
PREHEAT OVEN TO 375º F /190º C
Gut the maigre but leave the scales and skin. Grease an ovenproof baking dish with 1 tbsp olive oil. Bake the maigre in the oven for about 25 minutes or until done. Peel back the skin, open it and remove bones from the backbone and top side.
For the sauce:
Grind the pepper in a mortar. Add almonds and continue to grind. Soak bread in vinegar and add it to the mortar. Mash well. If thick add a little broth. Strain through a cheese cloth into a saucepan.
Heat the saucepan. Add honey and bring to a boil. Taste for sweet and sour flavor. Add more honey or sugar or vinegar if necessary. When well mixed add spices.
Serve warm with the fish.