It’s pouring rain again–better than snow, for sure, though another flood isn’t quite what my mood needs right now–which makes this post somewhat fitting since the rivers and streams are swollen and raging right now. Yesterday a neighbor gave me a beautiful striped bass from his freezer, left from last season. I put it in the fridge to thaw out overnight. By prep time today, it was perfect.
I rinsed it off, stuffed the cavity with garlic, thyme, and shrimp butter, sprinkled it all over with salt and pepper, and wrapped it in parchment paper. It went in the oven next to a dish of roughly cut red potatoes with shallots, rosemary, and olive oil. While they cooked, I washed, chopped, and sautéed a couple of heads of pak choi with garlic, homemade wine vinegar, and local soy sauce.
And that’s it. To be honest, I find fresh water fish to be much less interesting eating that their ocean-dwelling cousins, though the butter and wrapping kept the bass moist and tender. I carefully poured all the buttery juices into a bowl and whisked in more vinegar and parsley to make a sauce, and it was a very nice meal, but I’ve been in a strange mood lately so all I could think of (as with the lamb I made last night) was all of the things it wasn’t. Partly it’s the fact that nettles, ramps chives and the like are tantalizingly close to growing right outside my door so I’m chafing at the lack of wonderful fresh ingredients from which to draw inspiration. The greens and potatoes should be my own, but they’re not. And partly it’s the fact that this cooking and writing thing is still a side project to my main career, so I never have enough time to devote to it and as a result my food isn’t living up to the potential I know it has. I spent all day siting in front of this machine working on a CAD drawing for a new piece and thinking about all the cooking that I also wanted to do.
What I could have done with this fish and what I did with it are pretty far apart, but it still made for a good dinner. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters.