Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 23 DP - The bountiful striped bass

First off I want to extend a big THANK YOU to Wendy for letting me raid her garden.  I got a couple nice big leaks, some lettuce, spinach and some other greenery.  Thanks Wendy.
I spent at least a couple hours scaling, butchering and prepping those two nice striped bass from yesterday.  They sat on ice for 24 hours and then I tried to make every part count (except for the guts - although the liver may have been worth a try??).
I took off the nice big top loin sections and cleaned them up really well.  That is going to be my primary meat source.  Sashimi, sauteed, broiled, fried, poached - you name it.  Nice clean white fish.

I filleted the tail sections and skinned them and sliced them into fish sticks.  My plan is to get a whole bag of these sticks and marinade them in a salty, briny solution overnight.  I caramelized some leaks and added it to my brine.  I reduced it to a light brown liquid and after it cooled I added the fish pieces.  Later today I will bust out the smoker and dehydrator and make some striper jerky.  That should last for a while if I don't screw it up.  Last year I had a grill fire one time and then I totally over salted another batch.  Gotta remember those things and learn form my mistakes.
bag of fish sticks getting ready to be jerky
 I took the rib and fin sections and cleaned them up well and I am going to grill those up tonight.  I'll take off all the meat from those pieces and mix that in with some rice - maybe make some fish burgers or something.
For the grill tonight
 For my fish stock, I took all the scraps, fins, bones, and heads and chopped them all up.  I put them all in a big pot with water, added salt, some of the green veggie stalks from leaks, a bunch of dandelion greens and some herbs from the garden.  Cooked it for about 2 hours and then strained off the liquid.  I picked at some of the meat that fell off the bones for my dinner.  This stock will add a lot of flavor and nutrition to my rice when I cook it.  I will also be able to make some sauces for my fish and I can even make a soup with it.  Very versatile.  It's a shame that most people discard so much of their fish parts when they catch them.
This is a BIG bowl although it doesn't look like it
I took the skin and tried to crisp it up in a frying pan with butter and some sea salt.  It didn't crisp up as much as I thought it would.  It was a little rubbery but it tasted nice.  Salmon skin gets nice and crispy - I think because of the high fat content.
For breakfast today I had a nice platter of sashimi.  I cheated a little by giving myself some soy sauce to dip in.  Sorry about that but I couldn't resist.  As sashimi, striped bass doesn't have a whole lot of flavor but if you slice it super thin and keep it as fresh as possible it is quite good.  It's ultra important to take good care of your meat if you're going to eat it raw.  I always keep the whole fish on ice for 24 hours and then right after I trim the pieces being used for sushi, they get wrapped up and go right into the fridge.  If handled right it will stay 'sashimi quality' for a few days.  I never freeze my fish that I plan to eat raw.
Striped Bass sashimi style - click on pic to see close up
It takes quite a long time to prep two big fish like this but it will be well worth it.  The neighborhood kids always come around when I am cleaning fish in my yard and it makes for interesting conversation (and learning).  They all want to touch the eyeball - and then ask me to cut it out and take out the marble inside (the lens).  They wanted to take the tails home.  One wanted the head but I said I needed that.  These kids were fearless - all of them wanted to get their hands on the fins and guts and eggs and slippery stuff.  They were very curious about what the fish had eaten right before I caught it.  That's the way you learn though.  Their parents must have been happy later that night! Ha.
Other than the skin, I haven't even cooked any of it yet.  I'm going to the grill store at lunch time to get some wood chips for the smoker.  Time to dust off the grills and pull the dehydrator out of the basement.  It's finally time to eat some fish again!  How nice it will be.

Ever since the mention of getting chickens, my kids have been excited about it.  I am still thinking about pursuing that idea and if I'm going to do it I should make some type of pen today or tomorrow.  That may be my next adventurous undertaking.

"Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know."

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