Half Bassed

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.

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9 Comments

  1. March 11
    Reply

    I think we’re all getting excited about the spring bounty coming up very soon. Sounds like you’re in the front row.

  2. March 12
    Reply

    i love that pouty stare the fish is giving. i know what you mean about strange moods. me too, trying to talk myself out of it because i see no good reason for my strange state! happy cooking.

  3. March 12
    Reply

    Once the flood waters subside and the ramps spring up, you will be happier. Hope you get a shot of sunshine soon.

  4. March 12
    Reply

    Or maybe that’s “…and the spring ramps up…” Either way.

  5. There will be green soon… after all this rain. I think that most of us had had it with white and gray. Gorgeous fish. Silver is lovely in any season.

  6. Peter
    March 13
    Reply

    M Zen: I’m in the freaking mosh pit.

    Nicole: My mood is improving a bit. The maple sap helped.

    Zoomie: Ha! Good one.

    Deana: It goes with everything, doesn’t it? The skin would make a good suit.

  7. March 13
    Reply

    I love reading your posts out-loud to my husband. I can’t eat seafood, but I think I’d be clamoring to eat any seafood you describe in your blog. It always sounds amazing. You really are a great writer, even when in a gloomy mood. Wishing some sunshine your way, though with your most recent post about the maple sap, maybe you already got some!

  8. Janet
    March 13
    Reply

    You my friend have the March blues. You want to see something green outside your window, but you know it will be a few more weeks before that happens. Nothing tastes better than the first young vegetables out of the garden. (My favourite are the young radishes.)
    I’ve noticed my snowdrops are starting to show their face, but I also know we are not yet done with winter. Hope we see sunshine and warmer weather soon.

  9. March 14
    Reply

    great title post
    oh, that and… stop whining for gods sake

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