In the Case of Barracuda, Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Four Ways

Photo: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Some days ago, travel writer (and sometime New York Magazine contributor) Shira Levine was wading in the waters of the Dominican Republic when the unexpected happened. “I saw what looked like a boulder come out of this wave really quickly and it punched me in the face like a baseball.” The blow sent her to the emergency room to get two stitches near her jaw. A little Googling revealed that the mini marlinlike creature she’d been attacked by was probably a barracuda. When she got home, Levine told the story to her friend, Bunny Chow chef Paul Simeon, who told her that as a native of St. Lucia, he often fished for barracuda. They decided to have a revenge feast, and Levine invited her Facebook friends (including your humble narrator) to a private “barracuda roast” at the restaurant.

Simeon, who hasn’t cooked barracuda since he worked at Negril, tells us he’s planning to get one from a Caribbean fish market in Brooklyn, where they’re sold young (he says younger barracudas tend to be sweeter, since they feed on the shellfish found on reefs), and he’ll prepare the beast four ways: fried and scented with cumin, in an escabeche sauce; grilled with a lime-chile sauce; and poached with smoked tomato and saffron sauce. Finally, he’ll prepare another dish in the style of South African snook (with chutney and on bruschetta). That oughta teach ‘em! But then again, the fish may have had reason to take action on Levine: “Right before the fish punched me,” she says, “we were talking about the ceviche we’d just been eating. So it could’ve been personal.”

The revenge feast will be private, but if you want a taste of barracuda, Soto has been known to serve it as sushi. We haven’t confirmed that it’s currently on the menu, so call before going.