Fresh Bass

Most forms of wild fish have up to 12 days shelf life if kept in ideal conditions. These conditions being that the fish is thoroughly cleaned as soon as caught, also scaled and having the fins and gills removed. The reason for the thorough cleaning is to prevent enzyme action, both in the gut of the fish and the surface of the fish, from contaminating and damaging the flesh of the fish, and at a minimum creating an unpleasant smell.

After cleaning, store the Bass in ice to keep the temperature around freezing point. These storage conditions must be maintained until it reaches the retailer, where you will make your purchase.

But does it happen? Well in the main no. The fish is rarely cleaned at sea. It might undergo some chilling on the journey back to the fishing port, but will probably not be packed in ice since this should be removed for the auction. In all likelihood the fish will now be packed with ice for the wholesaler to transport. But once again when sold to the retailer it is likely to have the ice removed to re-weigh. The fish will now arrive at the retailer some several days old, where in most cases it will still not be cleaned. The deterioration will now be advancing rapidly. This is your fresh fish!

The only way to resolve the problem is to incur the extra labour costs both at sea and through the distribution process, to meet all of the correct conditions. It will cost more money to buy the fish, but it will be in a better condition. Insist on your fish supplier going some way along the correct process by stocking line caught fish from a day boat, who ideally cleans the fish on board. But do not buy the Bass if it remains unclean on the fish suppliers slab.

If we go back several stages and assume that you have just received freshly caught fish, then these are the stages that you need to carry out to clean the Bass. With a sharp set of kitchen scissors cut off the fins. Next, using a small sharp knife scrape off the scales, this is best carried out with the fish under water in the sink, to stop the scales scattering all over the kitchen. Now with a sharp knife open the gut from the vent, at the tail end, to the mouth at the head end, and remove all the stomach contents and the bright red gills. Wash the cavity, and the outside of the fish, taking special care to remove the blood along the inner spine, and dry. You now have a clean fish Now fillet the Bass. With a sharp knife cut on either side of the spine, and gradually work your way along the length of the fish to remove the fillets from the skeleton. Check to make certain that there are no tiny pin bones remaining, remove with tweezers or pliers. Now cut the fish fillet into even sized and thickness fillets of around 150 g, use any trimmings for fish stock or in a fish stew.

For Sea Bass it is preferable to leave the skin on. For the thicker fillets make slight incisions in the skin of the fish, to ease cooking.

Finally to the frying. Have a pan of a size suitable to take the fillets. Lightly coat with a vegetable oil of your choice, and bring up to medium heat. Place the fillets skin side down in the pan until it is light golden and slightly crispy, but not burnt. Turn the fish over to complete the cooking. Check that the thickest part of the fish is 62 degrees Celsius.