Aside from the thrill of catching one of these impressive fish, the taste and quality of striped bass also contributes to its status as a summer favorite. Historical records indicate that even Captain John Smith of Virginia was fond of the fish and dined on it regularly, referring to it as an “excellent” meal. Culinary historians also believe that this staple was served as part of a variety of seafood offerings at the first Thanksgiving.
Given the flavor and versatility of this hearty fish, it’s no wonder that those residing on the east coast have been enjoying it for centuries. The texture of a sea bass fillet is a happy medium between a flakey white fish such as haddock or cod and meatier varieties like swordfish or tuna. This middle-of-the-line texture will satisfy even the pickiest of seafood eaters, while making the options for preparation simply endless. Popular and summer-friendly methods for cooking striped bass include grilling or a simple bread-and-bake, but the rich yet simple flavor of the fish also lends itself well to more adventurous preparation styles.
Executive Chef Yale Woodson of the Turner’s Seafood Melrose location plans on featuring striped bass in a variety of creative ways this summer. He enjoys cooking with the fish because it possesses the flavor profile to stand on its own and the confidence to partner with a variety of seasonings, marinades, and sauces. The recipe below is one that Yale will be offering at the restaurant this summer — but it can also be easily prepared in your own kitchen. This recipe complements the natural sweetness of striped bass while pairing the filet with a variety of great flavors found in the New England summer harvest.
Striped bass — four 6 oz. filets
½ cup diced cucumber — peeled and seeded
2 Tbs minced red onion
1 Tbs chopped fresh garlic
8 oz. Greek yogurt plain — Greek yogurt is best because it is thick and does not need to be strained
1 Tbs chopped fresh mint
1 Tbs chopped Italian parsley
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
Fold all ingredients together in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to use to allow flavors to marry. Can be made in advance — has a 4-day shelf life in the refrigerator.
Summer Tomato and Corn Salad
4 ears of corn, boiled or grilled — remove corn from the cob; need to yield 3 cups
3 ripe beefsteak garden tomatoes, sliced ¾ inch thick — need 8 slices
3 Tbs whole butter
2 Tbs chiffonade of basil Leaves
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Lightly coat striped bass filet with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, pan sear, broil, or roast as is your preference.
Melt butter in a sauté pan and add corn and warm through. Once warm, season with salt and pepper and fold in the basil leaves. Remove from heat — you’ll want to keep the vibrant yellow and green of the basil intact.
Place 2 slices of tomato on 1 half of the plate, shingling slightly. Season with salt and pepper and spoon ¾ cup of corn and basil onto the tomatoes.
Plate the striped bass filet leaning against the tomatoes and spoon 2 Tbs of Tzatziki sauce over one edge of the filet.
Serve as is or pair with roasted potatoes, rice, or your favorite green salad.
Photo credit: www.farm2market.com