Holy Shit, did you guys like the bass breakdown posts. Now for the flood of questions I got from them
Q) Why is it so difficult to cut through the back bone of this fish compared to salmon. I have never had to use a bone saw or hit my knife with a meat tenderizer?
A) Salmon are a fresh water fish and have a totally different enviroment to live(swim) feed, and breed in. Their diet is different as well and they grow much faster than striped bass and do not live as long. Stripers are fantastic swimmers and fighters when hooked. They eat such a vast menu of bait fish (and some not considered bait fish) These are tough (I mean that in respectful way and not in relation to the meat) fish and it shows when you try to break down the bass the way I described in the chop breakdown. This is not done by normal striper men. When I showed the chops to some other fishermen I know they looked very surprised that I would not only do that, but also go through the struggle to do it. If you have ever broken down salmon you know how easy it is to go through the spine, it will not be that easy with this fish.
Q) Dude where did you get that fish? I thought striper season was done? Isn’t it June already?
A) Striper season does not officially close for me until Dec 31. I only surf cast. I stand my ground. I have found that there are two kinds of fishermen on my island. Striper fishermen, and fishermen. The former will only go after stripers and the latter will go after anything that swims. I am one of those. If there is fish on the beach I will go after them. Stripers, blues, Black Drum, Kingfish, Northern Puffer, Sea Robin, Spot Black Cobia (yes I have nailed that from the beach as they follow the rays when they migrate) Flounder, Weak fish, Croaker, Herring, Pompano, ect. Stripers stay around until well into June. It is just that most guys are using four wheel drives to get to their favorite spot and I walk on with my cart. When Memorial day comes the trucks are not allowed on the beach so those guys consider the season over unless they go out on a boat. Where I got it was right in front of my house, in broad daylight, on a crowded beach (which let me tell you is a giant pain in the ass).
Q) Why not bleed the fish out on the beach? It would have made the pictures of the breakdown much more pleasant. It can’t be all that fun to clean up that shit? Plus it is a lot more humane to kill them right away then to let them suffocate and let the meat toughen that way.
A) A good point. My wife Susan hates to see me let the fish flop around and die slow. But I want the organs, and I want them fresh. I never felt that letting the fish suffocate slowly harms the meat at all. The protein that is in fish flesh is different then the flesh of a mammal. Rigor mortis, however, settles in the same amount of time with a sea creature dying as does a land creature. The slower it dies on the beach, the fresher it stays for me. I am not rolling around with a few pounds of ice on me when I am on the beach, so dying slowly is the way to go for me. Plus I do not want to slice through the liver or roe if I can help it. And I can clean up my mess in a stainless steel kitchen better than dragging a bleeding fish up over a dune and into my car.
Q) What’s wrong with scaling a fish with a knife? I do it all the time.
A) I have found that it can tear the skin up, and the skin is something I wanted intact for this recipe. If your knives are as sharp as mine then they will destroy the skin when you scale,and ruin the blade as well. If your knife is dull, then you will do a poor job of scaling. The skin (as well as the bones and connective tissue) adds moisture, texture, and taste to this dish that one does not normally get from striper fileted the normal way.
Q) Why did you not put the skin and fins in your stock? Isn’t that a waste?
A) I try not to use my stock pots as trash cans. Vegetable trimmings are one thing, but the skin and fins are going to add nothing that the head, tail and spine could not, even with the cheeks gone.
Q) Great pictures. Way more helpful than watching a video, but could you put more?
A) I try to get as much as I can. Remember I am holding the camera in my mouth for some of these pics. I have lost a few as well(the pic of the chop before it went into the freezer was one) When I do a breakdown of Northern Puffer (blow fish) I will try to be as detailed as I can.