Most days, there’s a pickup truck parked in Blue Hill, out of the back of which a grizzled bearded dude sells Maine shrimp, local scallops and haddock fillets. Although the quality of the seafood at our local supermarket is excellent, this catch is right off the boats and is sparkling fresh, with a pure, clean sea breeze aroma.

Here’s a menu built around Maine’s wonderful favorite fish.

CRUMB-TOPPED BROILED HADDOCK

Crumb topping on broiled seafood works well because it creates an attractive (and tasty) crust that also protects the fish from the drying effects of high heat.

Servings: 4

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 to 2 pounds haddock fillets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Panko or fresh bread crumbs (see note)

Lemon wedges

Preheat the broiler and position rack 4 to 5 inches from heat source. In a medium-sized skillet, melt butter. Brush butter over both sides of the fish and arrange fillets in a broiling pan or shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add crumbs to remaining butter in skillet and cook over medium to medium-high heat, tossing, until they toast to one shade darker, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over the fish. Broil until crumbs are darkly toasted and the fish flakes and is no longer translucent, about 5 minutes per half inch of thickness. Serve with lemon wedges.

NOTE: Panko are Japanese-style bread crumbs that are now available in the bread crumb section of most supermarkets.

ORANGE AND SCALLION RICE

This orange-flavored rice is great with fish. If you don’t mind eating small pieces of orange rind, the extra fillip of stirring in thin orange wedges is a lovely touch.

Servings: 4

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup chopped celery

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 cup orange juice

1 cup chicken broth or water

3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 or 2 thin slices seedless orange, optional

In a medium-large saucepan, melt butter. Add celery and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until grains are coated with fat and start to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Add orange juice and broth or water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, and cook covered for 18 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in the scallions and orange zest, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For more orange flavor (and as a nice visual touch), halve orange slices, stack, and cut into small (about half-inch) triangles. Stir into the rice.

STIR-FRIED BROCCOLI

This method of high-heat stir-frying chars the broccoli slightly, adding a hint of pleasing bittersweetness.

Servings: 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil

7 cups broccoli florets

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a very large skillet or wok. Add broccoli and cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, for 1 minute. (This helps sear the vegetable.) Stir, and continue to cook until broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until broccoli is desired degree of doneness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Dishing Up Maine” (Storey Publishing 2006) and “The New England Clam Shack Cookbook” (Storey 2008). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula.