Let’s take a look at whole fish. We look at fish, whole fish for sale and usually end up using just the filet. The head is occasionally used for stock in conjunction with the spine. That is about it. When we are looking for sleek and polished presentations we trim the filet further and discard the trim pieces in search of an aesthetic. Then there is the skin. More often than not fish skin is removed to expose the delicate flesh beneath. So, buying a whole fish really leads to a whole lot of waste.
Our goal with cooking has been to look at ingredients not just as a whole but as an assortment of puzzle pieces. What is exciting is that depending on the day the pieces may provide different inspirations. Over the next week we will look at a black bass and five presentations that evolved from the whole fish. We were pretty good using the whole fish but we did not utilize everything, overlooking its liver or interior bones. In hindsight we have a number of ideas to try with these forgotten parts, from smoked liver sauce to grilled chili rubbed ribs. Every ingredient provides an array of culinary pathways; it is an open and questioning mind that allows for clearing away the debris and obstacles.
All of these dishes were made from one 900 gram black bass. We created 5 dishes to serve 4 people a 5 course menu. After the fish was scaled and gutted we divided it into its parts: head, collar, belly and lower loins, large loins, and skin. We brined each of these parts in a 5% salt water bath for 10 minutes to rinse off any loose proteins while also denaturing surface proteins which firms the flesh and provides a better medium for activa bonding.
These are the parts.