Porgy, to most of us, is the male half of George Gershwin's popular opera. But cooks and fishermen know it by its more popular name - scup - a not-so-well-known saltwater fish.
Although a record six-pound scup was caught near Martha's Vineyard off No Mans Land Island Massachusetts, last year, the porgy's market size is usually in the one- to two-pound neighborhood.
Scup is readily available year round in most fish markets. Bony but delicious , this little fish can be easily deboned after cooking, revealing a fillet of mild flesh sometimes likened to that of freshwater trout.
It is easily prepared by simple pan frying or grilling over charcoal. Or the fish can be baked or cooked in other ways. Sole, perch, or grunt may be substituted for porgy. Baked Scup With Vegetable Stuffing 2/3 cup chopped onion 2/3 cup chopped tomato 1 cup sliced zucchini 3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil 4 dressed scup Dill, salt, and pepper to taste Lemon and tomato slices
Saute onion, tomato, and zucchini in oil with seasonings until tender. Sprinkle scup inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff belly cavity with vegetables.
Place fish in baking pan to which a little olive oil has been added. Garnish with lemon and tomato slices, cover with foil, and bake in preheated 350-degree F. oven 20 minutes.
Check for doneness by sliding a fork vertically down backbone. Meat is done if it easily lifts away from bone.
From ''The Fish-Lovers' Cookbook'' by Sheryl and Mel London (Rodale $16.95), here is an unusual porgy recipe. Porgy with Saffron and Mint, Moroccan Style 1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron strands 1 cup water 1/4 cup peanut oil 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 2 porgies, about 2 pounds each, cut across into l-inch steaks 3 lemons, peeled, cut in thin slices 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
Soak saffron in 1/4 cup water 15 minutes. In skillet, combine oil with remaining water, saffron water, and garlic. Arrange fish over all and cover top of fish with lemon slices.
Bring to boil, lower heat at once, cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Test with skewer to see if fish flakes easily. Remove with slotted spoon to warm serving dish. Decorate with lemon slices and sprinkle with mint. Serves 6.
(Editor's note. Because saffron is the most expensive of all spices, many people use tumeric in the same amount. It gives a pleasant yellow color but doesn't have quite the same flavor as the more expensive spice.)