Striped bass APB

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.

31 people are having a conversation about “Striped bass APB

  1. Thanks again for my fillet! OMG, it was so delicious. I have a couple of go to recipes for striper. First is piccata style, just like chicken piccata, but with flour dredged portions of striped bass. The second way is broiled with a crumb topping that has rendered ground linguica, lots of garlic, orange zest, a little orange juice, butter and/or EVOO and bread crumbs. Of course beer battered anything ranks highly with me too, do you have a deep fryer yet?

  2. I really feel like you’re underestimating the taste of frozen filets just broiled…. I understand the reference point is fresh, and sure, they aren’t the same, but still….

    I think it’d be awesome w harissa
    there are a million stews that’d be great
    I’d do a sake steamed filet
    you could do a striper “dynamite” like you’d get at a sushi bar- kinda like greenlipped mussels that are baked?

  3. My go-to dish with fish is fish curry. Although there’s no recipe, just whatever I have going on in the vegetable drawer gets chopped in (usually onion, garlic, carrots, corn, capsicum,…) Plenty of spices, and a big whack of coconut milk. Depending on how tough the fish is, changes when it can go into the pot, otherwise it’ll break up. Something indestructible like fish balls can go in at any time, but softer fish needs to go in for the simmer after all the mixing about is fnished.

    I also like to make a seafood spaghetti with fish, mussels, calamari, etc. into a tomato+onion+garlic+green herb sauce. I was cursed with a crustacean allergy at 14, but sometimes I do add prawns in another pot for the kids.

    Oh, don’t forget grilled over charcoal on the BBQ too… a bit of browning with just a hint of smoke … nice with cold fresh beer.

  4. Hello Tamar

    I have been a silent reader of your entertaining and educating blog for several years from ‘down under’ [New Zealand].
    I’m not sure what striper is like as it is not something we catch here. Snapper and kingfish are caught regularly, along with kahawai, john dory, hapuka, etc. When we have too much I freeze vacuum packed fillets [sometimes with a little clean sea water]. If we want shallow fried fish I put a generous amount of cornflour in a plastic bag with a little salt and shake defrosted fish to coat well. When fried this makes a crisp coating with moist fish and does not leave a ‘frozen fishy taste’. Alternatively a curry is also well received.
    If the skin is left on, the fillets can be smoked after freezing. We’ve found this is better than freezing the smoked fish.

    Kind regards,

    • Caroline — Thanks for coming out of the shadows! I do love fried fish, and I suspect the frozen stuff would work great. I’m very interested in the fact that you smoke after you freeze — we freeze after we smoke, but we only smoke bluefish. (They smoke so well that we don’t bother with other kinds.) What kind of fish did you experiment with?

      I’m glad to know you’re out there! Now that you broke the ice, I hope you’ll be back.

  5. My suggestions are mousse, curry, and ceviche (yum!).

    Poaching in milk works to salvage freezer burned fish. Using diluted canned milk instead of fresh gives the fish a sweet taste, which works for more delicately flavored fish because it brings back some of the natural sweetness.

    I have substituted cooked leftover fish in my family’s salmon loaf recipe with good results. The original recipe calls for canned salmon with the liquid, but I use flaked cooked fish with a little broth or tomato juice or whatever savory liquid I have. It is dead simple. In a loaf pan, combine 1-1/2 to 2 cups flaked fish or a 15.5 ounce can of salmon, 1/2 a sleeve of crushed saltine crackers, 1 or 2 eggs, and the salt-free seasoning of your choice. Once it is thoroughly combined, sprinkle with more crushed crackers, dot with a little butter and bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes, or until set. This recipe came from my grandmother, who use to stretch it with more crackers during WWII so that she could feed everyone off of one can of salmon. It produces a slice-able loaf.

    When we used to freeze a lot of trout, instead of putting it in plastic bags, we would freeze them in milk cartons filled with water. The water protected the fish, and it came out very good. I don’t know if this would work for fillets, but it was great when the fisherman in the family came home with too many trout.

  6. Take the easy way out of easing your glut, Tamar.

    Our address is:
    xxx xxxx xxx

    Go on. You can afford the postage!

    I love fish. It is stupidly expensive here in the UK and difficult to get really fresh supplies so we make do with end-of-day discounted packs. But I will be back to pick up tips from your readers in these comments.

  7. Curry is the way to go! Favourite recipe at the moment is Rick Stein’s Fish Khata with tomatoes from a trip he made to Bangladesh. It’s a mild curry that has become a staple in this house and we’ve made it with different fish: monkfish, cod, salmon … and sometimes we throw some prawns in too. A video clip from his TV programme is on YouTube:

  8. Accidental Mick says:

    How about trying to find a trading partner a bit further inland who grows and butchers their own stock? (Even if there had to some added cash.)

    Alternatively, what about taking an experimental stall at a farmers market, again a bit further inland from you. Could be fun and you’d meet a lot of new people.

  9. I love hot smoking fish. I’ve never tried bass, but had wonderful results with salmon, rainbow trout (which is local for me) and catfish. It’s also a good way to use up prunings from fruit trees and grape vines. Smoked fish are delicious by itself, or in souffles, mousses, pates, scrambled eggs – endless possibilities.

  10. What a great list! I’m going to try a lot of these. Several of you suggested ceviche — do you think the texture will hold up in the freezer? Only one way to find out, I suppose.

    Mick, I like the trading idea. If there’s anyone out there with a freezer full of venison, we should talk. Unfortunately, regulations are such that I couldn’t sell the fish at the market. That kind of thing is very tightly controlled around here.

    Marie, I envy you having grape vine prunings to burn!

    Laura, your loaf sounds a lot like our fish cakes, but in a pan. And not deep-fried. Which is a nutritional plus but a taste minus!

    Danny — If you were ANY closer …

    Fiona — thanks for the link. That looks great.

    Curry is a great idea, and I used to do it, but it fell off my radar. It’ll go back on. And, Kingsley, my condolences for your allergy.

    Rick, piccata is genius. And, unrelatedly, your comment about the Eagles made Kevin and me laugh out loud.

    Amanda — I’m not sure how much worse the frozen stuff is than the fresh because I never really put it to the test by just plain grilling it. But Kevin made strudel out of it the other night and it was outstanding, so I’m thinking you might be right.

    • Tamar,

      There are little street corner Latino food places here that make ceviche, and they chop or grind the fish very fine, almost minced. I suspect they use frozen fish. It is absolutely delicious, and because the fish is cut so small, texture is not an issue.

      On the loaf, yes, it does not have as much rich, yummy, delicious fat as fried fish cakes, but there is something to be said for the saltines and butter on top. Sometimes when I need serious comfort food, I bake saltines with a ton of butter. They come out full of crispy, buttery, tastes-so-good-it-should-be-illegal goodness. The cracker topping on the loaf come out that way, too. And, if you miss the fat, put more butter on top, because no matter how good fried food is, butter is a step above oil.

  11. I am up the road right off Farmersville. I found you from Chef John who I’ve been following for years.
    My favorite striper. Pan sear salt and peppered fillet portions in a little oil and butter. skin side up. I also sear a couple of slices of lemon at the same time, flip the fish, place lemon on fish for garnish.
    Flame off with a shot of PALLINI LIMONCELLO. Place in hot oven or grill, indirect heat for a few minutes to cook fish through. This has become the Striper standard at my house. I think you will like it too ,,,,,,,,,,,,, to

    • Matt! Welcome! Chef John, a good friend, sends me lots of interesting people.

      I like your recipe. Funny that I was just thinking about how to use limoncello in cooking — a process prompted by my drinking the very last of the bottle we keep in the freezer. Now I’ll have to get another. Damn.

  12. I think you might consider recipes/dishes where the fish is baked in “wet” ingredients or at least with a little liquid or sauce. It might be especially helpful if there is acid in that sauce, such as chopped tomato (fresh or canned), orange, etc. Let me know if you want a couple I’ve done and I’ll email you.

    • Marge, you know I’m not going to turn down a recipe …

      I think wet is a good way to go, both to keep the fish from drying out and to add flavor. In general, I don’t pair fruit and fish, but the whole point here is to break out of my comfort zone. Send me the orange recipe!

  13. Well, Tamar, as you know I’ve eaten more striper than a man has a right to. I could go one for days with ideas, but I will leave you with two you might not have thought of: baccala. Yep, salt the fillets down to make “salt cod,” only with striper. It is pretty damn spectacular.

    Or… instead of the classic Spanish hake with green sauce, make it with striper. There are a million recipes for this on the interwebz, but pick one with lots of fresh herbs.

    Coming your way in October. Maybe we can fish then?

    • Salting? I had no idea. That’s genius, and I will try it. Also the hake.

      But even better would be going fishing. We will most definitely be here in October, and we’d love love love to take you out if you can make your way down here. Bonus points if Holly comes! Please keep us posted.

  14. Tamar,
    Wonderful post….my partner catches a lot of bass and highly recommends baking it with salsa and finishing off with cheese under the broiler at the end. He has made this for 100+ people at the Cape Cod Salties, to wide acclaim.
    Really enjoy your blog!

    • Marcia, I’m all over the salsa combo, but I have a deeply ingrained reluctance to pair fish with cheese (although I make an exception for things like shrimp with Parmesan). Lots of other people don’t — maybe I’ll have to post about that, and solicit some more opinions.

  15. add a few cloves of garlic to olive oil in a large pan. saute for a while. add a large can of pureed tomatoes and a handful of fresh basil. no need to chop the basil. simmer for a while. boil some spaghetti, or some capellini. keep simmering the sauce. add salt, pepper, or hot pepper flakes to taste. while the pasta is cooking, add the fish in chunks. keep simmering. when the pasta is done, drain. at that point, if you like, add a few shrimp or other seafood to the sauce. simmer. when the fish is flakey and the sea food is done, add the pasta. toss, simmer until the pasta is reheated, and serve. DO NOT serve with cheese. southern italians don’t eat fish with cheese. call it pasta a la roberto angelino. he’s a good friend of mine. he makes great pasta! this is his recipe.

    • What were you, spying on me? I do almost exactly that to make a seafood pasta. The only difference is that I use more than a few cloves of garlic, and I add the basil at the very end. It’s a great dish.

  16. Jonathan in Korea says:

    Hey, I’ve never commented, but I love your blog! Woohoo self-sustainability!

    But yeah, my go to treatment with any kind of mildly flavored fish is a potato encrusted filet. Grate a potato (I guess a russet or other starchier variety is better) then rinse off some of that starch so it doesn’t get gloppy in the pan. Prep the filet with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Season sliver some scallions and mix them up with the grated potato and then make a crust with that on the filet, maybe 2 cm thick. Melt some butter in a pan, and put the crusted filet potato side down and then leave it until it browns a bit. After this, flip the concoction onto a baking pan or dish and then bake it until the fish is cooked. Hit it up with some more fresh lemon juice and serve.

    • Potato crust, eh? That’s not a bad idea. Not bad at all.

      Thanks for coming out of the shadows, both because I really like to hear from readers, and because I can now add Korea to my International Readership list. Korea!

      • Jonathan in Korea says:

        Oh yeah, that reminds me of another recipe idea… This is a very traditional kind of dish that a typical Korean family might have for dinner:
        In deep frying pan or medium pot, bring about 3 cups of water to boil, then drop to a strong simmer. In this, dissolve 2-3 tablespoons of miso paste (amounts are all rough, I always do this by taste, shouldn’t be too watery or salty). Now add about 3-4 minced cloves of garlic.

        Take your striper filets (they can be thawed or frozen) into the bottom of the pan (in the broth).
        Slice up veggies like onions, carrot, radish (daikon or the little red guys or both), scallions, bok choy, napa cabbage, and/or zucchini squash and add them to the broth. (At minimum, you want onion, zucchini, scallion, and some kind of radish).

        The veggies you can basically layer in there, we’re aiming for more of a casserole kind of dish, and not really a soup. Bring this all to a simmer. Season with some black pepper and crushed toasted sesame seeds (if you have them).
        Once the veggies are pretty much done (and the fish) slice up a block of tofu and layer that on top of the whole deal, let it simmer for a bit. As a final step it’s nice to drizzle a little sesame oil (maybe >1 tsp) over the top then serve family style.

        Usually each person has a bowl of rice and then they eat the casserole/stew with it. Others like to take some of the casserole and just mix is all up with the rice.

        This dish is called ‘jiggae” (pronunciation. jig geh) or more specifically “sengsun jiggae” which basically means fish and vegetable stew/casserole.

        This is real Korean comfort/peasant food.

  17. For fish?
    Try baking them in tandouri goo (out of a jar) and plain yoghurt.
    Or, alternatively, bake them with slivers of fresh ginger and a a big slosh of soy sauce.
    Either one works well over rice (or kasha or whatever).

    You could also try pan-frying them in strips (toss them in a little flour, salt, and paprika, then fry them in butter) and serving them under a mix of flavourful, grilled/sauteed veggies (garlic, peppers, tomatoes, wild greens, etc)

  18. Betty Bradshaw says:

    This past weekend, on Cooking Channel TV, I heard it is now all the rage in Italy to use cheese with fish.

    • The things I miss! I’ll have to see if I can find it — I’m curious about which cheese and which fish. Thanks!

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