Pacu Fish Ribs
Every once in a while, you come across something new in the culinary world that really surprises you because you've never heard of it before and it turns out to be incredible. This is what happened when we dined at Quahog's Seafood Shack, a new restaurant in Stone Harbor, NJ, that locals remember as Tridi Jo's.
Quahog's Seafood Shack is owned and operated by Argentina-born Chef Lucas Manteca, who also owns another Stone Harbor Restaurant that my wife and I dined at called Sea Salt. I'll write about that experience another time. Quahogs is a casual restaurant that welcomes kids, is named for the large hard clam, and is all about seafood.
Among his most popular dishes are his soft shell crabs, Maine Lobster Roll, Cape May Salt Oysters and my entree, Pacu fish ribs.
While many local restaurants serve salmon, swordfish, or tuna, you'll find sustainable fish like barramundi or escolar. Chef Lucas post grilled fish, but what he serves each night changes depending on what's fresh and available.
My wife shared the Lobster Bake with my youngest daughter and feasted on lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, potatoes and corn on the cob. They also served a tasty cole slaw with a spicy flavor. Both of them thought it was excellent.
The blackboard posting the daily specials listed Barbecued Pacu Ribs with coconut rice. When I asked our server for more information about Pacu and how they can be served as barbecued ribs, she told us Pacu is a Brazilian freshwater fish that grows to over 60 pounds. When she told us the ribs looked just like pork barbecued ribs, I knew I had to give them a try and I'm glad that I did.
They purchase their Pacu ribs from Samuels & Son Seafood Company, so I looked up their website and here is what they say, "Pacu grows very fast to very large sizes. They can eat almost any food and are now being raised in huge fish farms worldwide as a food fish, especially in Brazil."
"The large and meaty pacu ribs, whether fired, grilled, or barbecued on a spit, are a unique and highly appreciated delicacy. The whole pacu is normally prepared by oven baking or grilling on the barbecue."
When our food arrived, I couldn't believe how much the Pacu looked like barbecued ribs. They were stacked up on the plate like I've been served bbq ribs in restaurants. They were glazed with a rich barbecue sauce with a hint of chipotle, giving it a tangy spiciness. What a great summer alternative to barbecue ribs.
When I took my first bite, I noticed the fish was meaty, tender and delicious. If I remember correctly, there were three thin, flat bones per rib and the meat pulled off the bones with every bite.
Although the texture wasn't exactly like meat ribs, Pacu comes pretty close. I don't think you will find them in most fish markets, but you may want to ask your favorite fishmonger if he can order you some.
I'll see if I can interview Chef Lucas and get some cooking tips and maybe his barbecue sauce recipe.
Some of My Favorite Seafood Recipes
- Salmon Curry with Coconut Miso Recipe
- Grilled Salmon Delight: Perfectly Cooked Catch of the Day
- Everything You Need to Know About Ceviche
- Roasted Cod with Potatoes and Fennel Recipe
- Classic Tuna Casserole with Dill Recipe
- Shrimp Sauce Recipe
- Shrimp and Sweet Potato Curry Recipe
- Bacon Wrapped Scallops Over Coconut Curry Lentils Recipe