Friday, August 13, 2010

My stripped bass experience

The stripped dishes that I made were attempts at testing the versatility of the fish. I did it 3 ways: blackened, ceviche, and in a fish taco. I did use other fish as well in some of my recipes but that is because I was cooking for my family.

Blackened stripped bass:
Blackening is a cooking technique that has it's roots lousiana and is a classic dish of cajun cooking. The fish that take well to the blackening technique or ones that become flakey when cooked (talapia, halibut, red fish, etc.) examples of fish that do not take well to blackening are oily fish like bluefish. I have my own blackening recipe which has a long list of ingredients but more important than the spice mixture is having a good cast iron skillet. If you don't have one I suggest getting one because it is so good for so many things. It doesn't lose it's heat after you introduce something cold to the pan (like a seasoned fish). I did the sea bass along with some talapia and I wouldn't say that seabass is the best blackening fish but it isn't the worst. It was pretty moist and very tasty but I don't think that technique did it justice.

Ceviche: This is a traditional south and central american style of serving seafood based on a quick marinade in citrus juices and spices. Traditionally the citrus used is lime and the essential spicee is chili powder (two staples of central and south american cuisine). But really any citrus will do and playing with spices compliments the seafood in different ways as well. I am partial to grapefruit juice actually and I like to use smoked paprika instead of chili powder. I made two ceviches: one with only the stripped bass and the other with striped bass, scallops, and shrimp. Here are the ingredients (the amounts I can estimate but I am not much of a measurer):

stripped bass (about 1-2ozs):
1tsp each grapefruit, lime, and orange juice:
strong pinch of smoked paprika
small handful diced shallots
pinch of kosher salt
couple grinds of black pepper
chopped cilantro
minced seranno pepper
dash of sambal (a thai chili paste)

-it tasted great actually. The orange juice added just enough sweetness to compliment the sweetness of the fiish and the spices added a nice little kick at the end. I also prefer shallots over any other onion because they are a bit sweeter and more delicate.

The fish taco:
I don't know if there is a central or south american country that is famous for their fish tacos or maybe spain? I don't really don't know but I think it is a great way to eat fish because especially if you keep it simple. personally I just make a little salsa with some lettuce and maybe some pureed avacodo and that's it. A good corn tortilla is important too. flour tortillas are just, well, just not as good in my opinion (and no where near as authentic)

Salsa: (all diced)
sweet onion
lime juice
salt + pepper

avacado puree: just put the avacado in the food processor
iceberg lettuce shredded
Heat the tortilla on a flat top

with the fish I just seared it with a little olive oil and salt and pepper until just done.

Cut the fish up into chunks, spread some avacado spread on the hot tortilla, add the fish and a little salsa and lettuce and presto. Fish taco. This was actually my favorite way of preparing the stripped bass because you really showcase the fish.

The issue of opening federal waters to stripped bass fishing:
I am still quite on the fence on this issue. On the one hand I can understand the commercial fisherman's desire to open up federal waters and if it doesn't affect the sustainability of the stripped bass population why not? But then we would be responsible for monitoring the population in a much larger area and when the data is finally collected maybe it would be too late. There is also the old adage "give an inch, take a mile;" what would happen if it worked? and the data supported that the stripped bass population was very well sustained, would the commercial fisherman etc. clammer for a higher quota. As a recreational angler I would be open to it because the majority of the people fishing in federal waters would probably be commercial fisherman, spreading out the area being fished. If there was a way to regulate who fishes in the federal waters and to accurately monitor the population's health, why not have a 6 month trial period? try it out and see what happens? You could also limit the number of fish that anglers could take home. Maybe limit it to 1 a day? I think they should open it up for a set period of time, monitor how it works, adjust some other regulations, and go from there.

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