Friday, November 12, 2010

Preparing Fresh Striped Bass

From this... this!

After battling the cold, the wind, and the waves with some of my colleagues from work, I was able to bring home some nice striped bass from the mouth of the Potomac and the Chesapeake. Fish doesn't get any more fresh than this folks and there is no better way to get it than to get it yourself. For all you "fish huggers" out there, I'm sorry but I do catch and keep from time to time. When I do, I keep only what I will eat and nearly always what I can eat the same day. Fish like Striped Bass (Rock Fish) were created to be a food source (and a very healthy one) so if you have a problem with catching and keeping fish in the respectful and conscientious way I've just described, then I would respectfully suggest you keep your problems to yourself.

With truly fresh fish, the simplest preparation is best.  I first prepared a simple lemon beurre blanc using 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, couple drops of white wine vinegar, and sliced shallots reduced at a simmer to 1/4 cup and then strained.  Then add about 1/2 cup of heavy cream and two sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature and whisk to emulsify.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste.  Next, the fish were filleted, dried with a paper towel, then lightly seasoned on both sides with sea salt and white pepper.  It was then seared in olive oil for about 2-3 minutes on either side on medium-high heat.  Spoon warm sauce over fish and pair with homemade mashed potatoes, steamed asparagus, and a glass of Pinot Gris.

As I've explained before, if you don't have fresh line caught fish just laying around on ice, you should be careful to examine fish before you buy it in the market. I believe this is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that fish is often expensive. Fish that is not fresh is also not tasty and many people who claim not to like fish have this feeling because they have not had fresh fish that has been properly prepared. When buying fish, you should use the following criteria: First, the appearance of the fish should be moist but not slimy or dry. The flesh should be firm not mushy and it should smell like the sea with no fishy or off-putting odor. Blood, if visible, should be bright and pinkish in color. Lastly, the flesh of white fish should have a pinkish tone (never grey) and dark fish such as salmon and tuna should be bright and deep in color. For whole fish, the eyes should look alive and clear, not pale or off colored (notice the picture of my fresh fish above). The gills should be bright pinkish-red and the fish should not have signs of mishandling or damage. If the fish does not meet these criteria, then it's not fresh and you should not buy it.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this post reminded me of an article someone emailed to me over a year ago but, alas, it has long since been deleted. It was about what to look for and ask when buying fresh fish in a market and how many states' standards have become (far too) less stringent. The article was about a state agency in either AL or LA and how theirs were the toughest testing standards in nation. And this was long before the BP spill. I will continue to look for that article.

    In the meantime,I found these two online: A Nov 10th update of fishing by the MD DNR and "Frankenfish" in your area:

    Uncle Mike