The rascasse is certainly not very well known, I’ve learned, at least among English-speaking friends and particularly among those who don’t live in France. But it’s one of my favourite fish. (To eat, that is; not as a pet.)
Through the services of the vast research bureau employed by Radio Free Daglan (okay, it’s Google), I’ve learned that the rascasse is often known in English as the scorpion fish — apparently because of the stinging barbs on its back. Evidently it should not be handled with bare hands, but only by fishermen and fish cleaners wearing rubber gloves.
However, once the rascasse has been dispatched, and its scales and bones and so on are removed, it’s a delicious firm-fleshed fish, which is considered an essential part of the fabulous soup from the south of France, bouillabaisse.
Now be prepared for a bit of a shock, because I am about to show you an unadulterated photo of the fish (cleverly removed from someplace on the Internet that I can’t remember), and you’ll see that it’s not the most attractive of creatures:
Remember that I warned you: it’s pretty bizarre-looking, sort of like a red mullet trying out for a role in a horror movie.
In any case, it’s not often found in the fish department of the supermarket where we shop, but when we’re lucky, my wife Jan can buy rascasse fillets from the travelling fish van that visits the Daglan area each Wednesday. Then she simply pan fries the fillets, as the centrepiece of a lovely lunch.
I wrote about rascasse as long ago as April 25, 2013, including this:
I had always thought that rascasse was “a bony rockfish,” as one source put it, because I knew that red rascasse was a traditional ingredient in bouillabaisse. But the rascasse fillets we buy are bone-free, reasonably large (one per person is fine), and absolutely delicious. Typically, Jan just coats them lightly in gluten-free cracker crumbs and then sautés them in butter.
And now a regular source of rascasse can be found in one of our favourite go-to restaurants, Sawadee, in nearby Cénac.
I believe this happy development occurred because a curry de rascasse was one of the dishes served as part of the season-ending special menu late last year. (I wrote about the whole meal in a posting of November 25, 2018.) And now the dish has been added to Sawadee’s regular menu.
At the Thai restaurant, fillets of rascasse are served with a wide variety of fresh vegetables in a mild coconut-milk-laced curry, and it’s quite a wonderful dish. Here’s a sample:
Each time I’ve had the dish at Sawadee, it’s served a little bit differently (in the photo above, those are thin slices of raw cabbage at either end of the plate). But always, it’s excellent. So if you get the chance to try it, don’t pass on rascasse.