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Zox Kitchen

Zox Kitchen: October 10, 2013

Striped Bass – An East Coast Seasonal Wonder

One of the premier fish of the region is visiting our waters these days — the beautiful Striped bass. When I lived in the New York City area I would frequently fish with friends and family — as often as they allowed me to do so — catching, cleaning, preparing and cooking striped bass. I loved every step of the process. And the crew enjoyed my eagerness to be the chef. The stripers were so plentiful back in the 1970s and ‘80s that several fisherman I was fortunate enough to fish alongside would “catch and release” these magnificent wonders of the deep. Today, Ryan Collins who writes about fishing and the outdoors for the blog www.capecodtoday.com shares stories about how large they can grow and how one particular diver has actually seen the giants up close and filmed them swimming by in abundance at only 10 feet below the surface. Some fortunate soul has even been able to catch a 60 pounder which they call “Hawgs” that can be caught in “hawgtober” since October is the ideal time for catching stripers in the waters off Cape Cod.

In the days of yesteryear when stripers were so plentiful, it was also possible to catch bay scallops in non-commercially fished inlets and waterways near Montauk. I fell in love with the process of catching and eating them. One of us, usually me, since I was the youngest and smallest at the time, would climb up to the bow of a 16-foot inboard that one of us owned and catch the little beauties with nets on long poles. I was always struck by how lovely they were with the ridges on their shells. We would catch what seemed like an inordinate number in a bushel backet and then race back to our camp to clean and ready all of them to eat with lightly scrambled eggs. My goodness they were delicious. So sweet, refined and delicate. They seemed like ballerinas in the water watching them swoosh along by opening and closing their shells. So delicate and beautiful. A breakfast fit for royalty. But they were no better tasting than the stripers of today which are among the best eating fish one can catch these days.

Here’s one way I have enjoyed eating stripers which are easy to prepare and which are extraordinary to catch — even 25 to 30-pound ones. Catching 60-pound stripers seems ridiculous. Be sure to invite friends to dinner when striper is on the menu. They will never forget the meal nor the stories you can tell about catching them.

Grilled Stripers With Roasted Vegetables, Livornaise Style

Serves 4

• 2 lbs, of striper fillet-12 ounces per person (You may wish to use a needle point pliers to remove pin bones but stripers don’t have many to begin with.)

• 3 tbsps of Hellman’s mayonnaise

• 1 bar of unsalted butter

• 2 tbsps smoked paprika

• 1 cup rough chopped yellow onions, roasted

• 12 plum tomatoes cut in half, roasted and diced

• 1 medium zucchini, roasted and diced

• ¼ tsp medium size capers

• Zest and juice of 1 lemon

• ½ cup Italian bread crumbs

• Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Gently wash the fillets. Cut each approximately 8 ounces in size. Very lightly salt and pepper them. Spread mayonnaise with a knife over each fillet. Lightly sprinkle smoked paprika over each along with the lemon juice and zest. Place each fillet in a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, large enough to wrap and enclose roasted vegetables spread on each fillet. Meanwhile, roast one large onion cut in half and one medium size zucchini cut in half. Dice these vegetables and place in a medium-size bowl with the bread crumbs. Lightly salt and pepper the vegetables. Rough chop the capers and add them to the bowl. Spoon the vegetables and chopped butter in equal amounts on top of the 4 filets and enclose. Place on top of the grill when the coals are white and replace the top on the grill. Cook for 20 minutes and remove one packet. Unwrap and insert a knife into the thickest part of one fillet. It’s most likely done. You are looking for the fish to be white not opaque. Replace in the enclosed packet if not quite done. Personally, I don’t like fish overcooked in general and especially striper. For guests who like some crispiness, remove the fish in their packets and place all packets of fish and vegetables on a sheet tray. Open all of them up and fold the aluminum back. Broil for 5–7 minutes .

Bulgur wheat with a handful

of mushrooms is a nice side dish. It only takes 20 minutes to cook. Grill some slices of radicchio, browning each slice a bit and squeeze some lemon juice on top. Yum! Enjoy!