It is funny when I can start a story with the phrase back in the day. And yet I can. Today I was talking about our time on the Vineyard, Martha's that is, and the vast quantities of striped bass we cleaned and cooked. Back in the day we used plenty of twine to keep parts together and skin intact. Today we used activa to help us. Though, back in the day I had fewer ideas. I remember lusting after bass cheeks and cooking them en papillote with heirloom tomatoes and chicken fond jus. These tasty morsels, four available each day were sent out to VIP customers or to tables where we made a mistake and needed to buy a grace period.
Now in looking at the fish we see more. We also are able to do a bit more. We use the tail to make a shank which will serve two.(Thanks to Thomas Keller for the idea.) And there is more. Once you start looking at a fish differently new cuts and preparations appear. Sure, there is the bass chop, (I have cooked plenty of swordfish chops thanks to David Burke's creative outlook on food, yes I do believe the chop of fish is his discovery) and the aforementioned shank of fish.
From these two creative benchmarks I wondered about saddles of fish. From the saddle we can look at fish ribs. We served halibut ribs, glazed like pork ribs to a number of guests when we were in Maine. If a fish has ribs, it must then have a brisket somewhere. Similarly with a brisket present the fish must certainly have a belly. And what can we do with that belly and brisket? We brined the brisket section of the fish today and will slow cook it tomorrow. I am hoping to get a small section of melting and rich striped bass brisket which we can pair with the roasted loin. Of course we could make corned bass as well, just another idea. The belly can be cured like bacon or pancetta and then shaved thin. We could also braise it in the style of pork belly. Tomorrow will tell what direction we will take. We did opt to make a shank of striped bass from the fish. The fish can cook slowly on the bone and then be lacquered to create a bone gnawing finger licking dish.
The fish loins themselves have been wrapped in skin on three sides to allow for more crispy skin to fish ratio. We have hopes of using the EVO to roast the loins. Oh yes, and we still have the cheeks. I want to pair them with roasted ribeye cap, a decadent and tasty look at surf and turf.
Right now we have a bunch of parts, we shall see what we can assemble.