The spring striped bass season is over and done with. The mackerel have moved on and, with them, the teeming hordes of stripers hanging out to feed on them. There are still bass to be had, but you have to go farther and deeper for fewer. We’ll do some of that, but our summer fishing will be focused more on bluefish and bluefin (tuna!). And fluke. We do love fluke.
I would call our spring a screaming striper success. We limited out (two fish per angler) every trip but one, when we came back with three fish instead of four. We landed a total of over 300 pounds of striped bass, which translates to some 140 pounds of filets.
We ate a lot, and we gave a lot away. We had a list of friends who live near the boat ramp, and we’d call one or two of them as we were coming in. We could usually get someone to meet us there and take a whole fish.
Filets, too. Because we had as much fish as we could eat, we lost touch with the fact that fresh striped bass wasn’t available in the markets (the commercial season hadn’t started), and a two- or three-pound filet, just out of the water, was something worth having. Part of what made our season so good was being able to share our catch with friends and neighbors.
What didn’t get eaten or shared got vacuum-sealed and frozen, and we probably put down about 40 pounds, maybe more. That means we have to eat at least one meal per week of frozen striped bass if we expect to be back to zero when the 2013 season begins.
I need ideas, people.
Filets that have been vacuum-packed and frozen when they’re very fresh hold up pretty well, but we never thaw them and grill them as is; that’s asking too much. Instead, we tend to cut them up to use in composed dishes, and often use assertive flavors to mask any degradation.
We make fish soups, both the creamy kind with corn and potatoes and the cioppino kind with broth and other seafood. We make an Asian-style fish ball soup. Kevin makes his world-famous fish cakes. I want to experiment with fish tacos. But that leaves a lot of striped bass still to be eaten.
This past weekend, Kevin used two filets to make striped bass strudel, from a recipe by our friend Kurt Gutenbrunner, chef of Wallsé (site of my ignomious oyster-related embarrassment) and Café Sabarsky, in Manhattan. Kurt’s version is cod, and it’s served over sauerkraut with a reisling sauce. Striped bass made a fine substitution, and we’ll be having that again.
That still leaves a lot of striped bass.
What would you do? I’ve got to make one striped bass meal per week from now until Armageddon, assuming our fishing habit continues, and I need ideas.
I know you have them. I know you do.