Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

This Italian recipe features dogfish with tomato, fennel, pancetta and white wine, topped with a gremolata of parsley, pine nuts and lemon.  Substitute cod, monkfish, shark or swordfish for dogfish.


In addition to our winter CSA share from In Good Heart Farm, we’re also getting a CSF (community supported fishery) share from Locals Seafoods. Every week for eight weeks, I’m going to the Raleigh State Farmers Market to pick up two pounds of fish from Locals Seafoods.

What do I love about being part of this CSF?

  • I have a regular source of fish from North Carolina fishermen—fish from American waters, not industrial fish farms in Asia or South America.
  • I’m supporting my state’s fishing community and hopefully helping them to make a living.
  • I’m introduced to new species, like dogfish, that are sustainable fisheries but never seen in mainstream markets and restaurants. Instead, supermarkets and chain restaurants sell a limited number of species, most of them from other countries and no longer available here because they’ve been overfished. We export our best fish (like wild salmon) and import crap fish.
  • We get to enjoy fresh fish. Fresh fresh fresh. No smelly fish here. And none of that mushy texture you get with frozen fish.
  • If you do a search for dogfish, you won’t find many recipes like you would for other species, so I’m forced to adapt and develop recipes. In this case, I adapted a recipe for monkfish from David Leite’s blog. My recipe development skills are going to get a workout and they need it.

Yup, we’re going to be spoiled for eight weeks. We’re having one fish for dinner on Thursday (the day I pick up my share) and the other on Friday. I have the leftovers for lunch or, if there’s enough for two, we have leftovers for dinner on Sunday. Will we get sick of fish? I hope not. The only negative is the hour it takes for the roundtrip to/from Raleigh but I’m trying to combine it with other errands. The things we do for love of fish.

Smooth Dogfish Fillets | Grabbing the Gusto

Smooth Dogfish Fillets | Grabbing the Gusto

So, let’s get down to business: what’s dogfish like? Here’s what Locals Seafoods says—and I agree:

“A scavenger’s diet of shellfish, mollusks and a host of smaller sea creatures contribute to the slight sweetness of dogfish. The skinless fillets are boneless with a firm white flesh.”

Boneless–that’s a bonus.

You can find smooth dogfish (aka Atlantic bluenose) in North Carolina waters and spiny dogfish further north. Both are in the shark family. They travel and feed in schools, like a pack of hunting dogs, hence their name. Like other sharks, dogfish need to be bled, dressed and stored properly to avoid having the waste product (urea) found naturally in their blood convert to ammonia. If your dogfish (or any kind of shark) fillets smell of ammonia or spoiled, hand them back and take your business elsewhere.

If you don’t have access to dogfish, you can substitute cod, swordfish, shark or monkfish in this recipe. Since the New England cod fishery is in sad shape, many chefs up north are using dogfish in place of cod. In England, dogfish is frequently used in fish and chips—that’s where most of the U.S. dogfish have gone in the past since it was considered a trash fish here.

Trash fish, ha! That’s not what you’ll think if you try this recipe. Osso buco is normally made with veal shanks, but the usual preparation is fantastic with fish. Gremolata, the traditional topping for osso buco, adds a touch of brightness to the dish. It’s usually made with made with parsley, lemon and garlic, but I omitted the garlic and added pine nuts instead. Feel free to omit the pine nuts or substitute walnuts for them. You could definitely add garlic or black garlic to the mix.

I served the dogfish with a quick quinoa/brown rice mix from a package and absolutely fantastic creamed collard greens—I’ll share that recipe soon. I think this dish would be great with polenta or the traditional side, risotto.

Dogfish Osso Buco | Grabbing the Gusto

Dogfish Osso Buco | Grabbing the Gusto

Dogfish Osso Buco

You’ll need a plate for dredging, large pan with lid, foil, and small food processor or small bowl.

  • 1 pound dogfish, cut into 8 pieces – or substitute cod, swordfish, shark or monkfish
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, minced (2 slices) or bacon
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 medium carrot, diced
  • 1/4 fennel bulb, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup diced grape, cherry, plum or canned tomatoes


  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest (or 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest + 1/2 tablespoon orange zest)

Dredge the fish in flour and season with salt and pepper. Toss the excess flour and wipe off the plate.

Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sear the fish pieces on one side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn them over, add the pancetta to the pan, and sear the fish on the other side for 2 minutes. Remove the fish and pancetta to the clean dredging plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion, carrot and fennel to the pan and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are starting to caramelize, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Spread the vegetables over the bottom of the pan and place the fish and pancetta over them. Pour the wine and tomatoes into the pan, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the liquid is just simmering, cover the pan, and simmer for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the parsley, pine nuts and lemon zest in a small food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Set aside. If you don’t have a food processor, chop everything together, making sure to mix the ingredients thoroughly.

Serve the fish topped with the tomato mixture and gremolata.

Inspired by Monkfish Osso Buco with Pancetta and Carrots, Leite’s Culinaria


4 years ago on Grabbing the Gusto: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

3 thoughts on “Dogfish Osso Buco

  1. Ellen Drake says:

    My husband is on a weird diet, so I didn’t bread the fish and used barely any oil for the first step. I also used hardly any oil for the onions and fennel (I omitted the carrots, not on his diet). I also omitted the pine nuts from his part of the gremolata. In spite of all those changes, my husband loved the dish and declared it “a repeatable experience.” I got my dogfish from Sea to Table.

    1. deirdrereid says:

      I’m happy to hear it worked well for you. I end up modifying most recipes I make — whatever works, right?

      1. Ellen Drake says:

        Right! I had never made osso buco and had never used fresh fennel, so I enjoyed the new experience and tastes.

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