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Freshly Caught Fish

I'm thinking of some ways to cook freshly caught sea bass, unpretentiously and really letting the fish shine for all that it is.

1. Leave the fish whole and gut it. Stuff the cavity with a couple thin slices of lemon, a sprig or two of thyme, and salt (salting the outside skin as well). Roast it in the oven at 350 just long enough to cook it through.

2. Clean and fillet the fish (leaving skin on), and make foil packets for each fillet using a little lemon, chopped parsley, and salt. Hit these packets on the grill for a few minutes until just cooked through.

Also thinking about serving with some form of crispy potatoes for texture; possibly french fries or pommes maxim, sprinkled with a little fleur de sel.

Any other ideas to really let the fish shine, in cooking technique, ingredients, or sides?

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  1. Those are my favorite ways of simple. Whole presentation makes a great impression when cooking for company and foil packets are informal and easy, grilled or in the oven. Parchment packets done in the oven and plated for the diner(s) to open can be a nice presentation too. When serving exceptional fish simply I like to accompany it with nothing more than a really good salad and potatoes roasted with salt, pepper, rosemary and olive oil.

    1 Reply
    1. re: morwen

      Whole is really nice. I've done the salt dome which works really well to retain moisture. As long as you brush off any residual salt on the surface of the fish before serving it will not be salty at all.

    2. Steam, whole or filleted.

      1. I'd do it whole, in the foil packet on the grill.

        1. You could slice up the filets and do a little shabu shabu or a nabe dish.
          You could also do the banana leaf steam-serve with a ginger soy or chili dipping sauce.

          1. I vote for your method # 1


            1. With Rockfish we do just as you do in #1 except stuff with crabmeat as well as a few pats of butter.

              1. Sharp dorsal fins on them there [Atlantic?] black sea bass. Be mindful of that when you're ready to clean them. I am not a huge fan of sea bass and I much prefer tautog instead, but both fish can be prepared in the same way. Thin slices of fresh lemon, some sea salt, and nothing else really. This short list of ingredients will effectively allow the taste of the fish (and the sea) to shine through. It's best done with a fillet in cartoccio. [Option number 2 mentioned above]. Skin left on, face down flesh side up, salted, with lemons (rind and pith removed). Can be grilled or baked -- up to you what heat source you want to use. Just be sure the foil is sealed very well with either preparation. Enjoy.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Cheese Boy

                  Yeah Atlantic, but not black sea bass, most likely stripers. I've never had tautog but I'll gladly try it, especially if I can find some fishing spots around here.

                  Any particular reason the pith and rind need to be removed (I know the pith is bitter but have never heard of doing this)?

                  1. re: schoenfelderp

                    Yep, same reason why I remove any seeds, bitterness.
                    You can leave the rind on if you like and it looks better too when served.

                    Tautog --> http://www.gopogy.com/species/tautog-...

                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                      So basically you only want the actual "fruit" of the lemon and the zest, no pith or seeds?

                      Sorry to be a nuisance, but I really appreciate the ideas!

                      1. re: schoenfelderp

                        Actually it's my fault for being unclear.

                        I prefer no skin, no pith, no seeds, only fruit with the membrane.
                        Looks something like this except w/o the seeds --> http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=h...

                        You can cook it this way too, except the rind can be bitter (and can burn).

                        Here --> http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=h...

                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                          Ahhh yes! Thank you for the clarification, I'm definitely going to try this using only the fruit membrane!

                2. Sea bass is one of my all time favorite fish. But I wouldn't even consider it filletted. If there was any fish made for eating whole, this is it...even the largest. Steamed, baked, broiled, grilled...always fantastic!

                  1. My favorite way to cook rockfish (sea bass) is whole, on the grill. I make a chermoula which is a Moroccan marinade/sauce and slather it inside and out - it's unbelievable. It complements the fish beautifully. Here's my recipe:

                    Grilled Whole Rockfish with Chermoula - serves 4

                    •5lb rockfish, head-on and cleaned
                    •1 cup cilantro leaves
                    •2 cloves garlic
                    •1 tsp chili powder
                    •1 tsp cumin
                    •½ tsp salt
                    •1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
                    •2 tbsp lemon juice
                    •¼ cup olive oil
                    •1 lemon thinly sliced
                    •6 sprigs cilantro
                    Begin by making ¼ inch deep cross-hatch slices across the mid-section of the fish.

                    In a food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Pulse until the cilantro and garlic is chopped and all of the ingredients are combined. Rub the chermoula into the top of the fish and into the slits. Next, place the thinly sliced lemon and cilantro sprigs in the cavity of the fish.

                    Next, heat a grill over medium-high heat. The grill should maintain a steady heat of about 375 degrees. Place the fish on a large piece of aluminum foil and place on the grill over indirect heat. Cook for 35-40 minutes. During the last 10 minute of cooking, move the fish over direct flames to crisp up the skin. The fish is done when the flesh flakes easily.