Don’t Bogart that Collar, My Friend: Yelloweye Rockfish Melts

A pan-toasted sourdough bun, a chunky heap of yelloweye rockfish, and Tillamook cheddar cheese along with a couple of grinds each of sea salt and pepper are all you need for a gourmet lunch. The collar meat of yelloweye has a texture and flavor reminiscent of lobster and in similar fashion puffs up when you cook it.

While crab or shrimp are the classic seafoods in a melt, firm, white-meated fish is every bit as good. Enter yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) collar meat. The large, firm chunks of meat are perfect on melts. Lingcod, halibut, grouper, snapper and freshwater walleye are good candidates for this dish as well, and while collar meat is an excellent choice, any boneless portion of fish works fine.

I like to start with pan-toasted sourdough bread. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, place in the bread and move the down side around so it become coated with the oil. Cook over medium-lowor low heat till it’s toasted golden brown. Sometimes I add a little butter or some garlic to the olive oil.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan where you’ve also heated a little olive oil, place the fish and cook it over medium-low heat.

If you’ve timed things right, the first side of the bread is toasted and ready to flip at about the same time the seafood is cooked through.

Flip the bread to toast the other side, place the hot, cooked seafood on the toasted side of the bread, cover with shredded cheddar cheese, add a few grinds of pepper and some sea salt, then cover the pan with a lid and continue cooking over low heat till the cheddar is melted.

A few slices of avocado or fresh fruit on the side, a cold lager, iced tea or freshly-squeezed lemon-ade, and you’ve got a quick and easy lunch that will be relished as much by most kids as by gourmets.

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