It's a moment that's hard to forget. You're at Fatty 'Cue, Zak Pelaccio's new Asian-barbecue spot, swooning over the whole grilled mackerel. As you finish the last bite, a waiter drops by and asks, "Do you want me to fry those bones for you?"
Why, yes, please do.
The bones are returned minutes later, accompanied by soy and chile dipping sauces. They're as crunchy and delicate as potato chips--a revelation that gives new meaning to "fish fry."
Fatty 'Cue isn't the only spot frying fish bones. The tradition started in Japan, where sushi restaurants serve them at staff meals in keeping with their waste-nothing maxim. Now, chefs around New York have adopted the practice.
In January, Tribeca's En Japanese Brasserie launched a special menu on the first Saturday of every month as an homage to staff meals. The highlight: crunchy fried eel and fluke bones.
All three locations of Blue Ribbon Sushi serve horse mackerel bones as a special. The fish is filleted, and the sashimi is served alongside the brittle skeleton.
And at Marc Forgione, sustainably farmed halibut from Maine is plated in two pieces--the fillet and a fried skeleton (pictured), whose unusually delicate bones come with a caper dipping sauce.
It's an idea worth stealing: Next time we're at the fishmonger, we're taking the bones home, too.