Mains, Recipes

Grilled Whole Striped Bass With Easy Bean Salad

We love fish, and lately, we’ve been getting adventurous in our choices at the fish market, experimenting with more sustainable varieties such as redfish, Spanish mackerel, and striped bass.

“Stripers,” which are a big sport fish in Maine, are plentiful up and down the coast. Our friend Joel Kuschke fishes for them from the shore, catching and releasing them because the minimum “keeper” size is 28 inches—hard to catch unless you’re off shore in a boat. The same size restriction must not apply to stripers caught by commercial fishermen, because those we find at Harbor Fish Market on the Portland waterfront are certainly not that big!

I’ve known lots of people who fish for stripers, but had never eaten one until recently, and was frankly surprised by just how delicious this fish is. We now ask the market to both gut and scale them. The first time he brought one home, Ted scaled it in the kitchen sink, but trust me, those scales don’t stay in the sink … I found the sparkly things scattered around for days.

While there are plenty of fancier recipes around for striped bass fillets, we prefer these fish whole, cooked over wood charcoal, lightly rubbed with olive oil and simply sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. We’ve been using our charcoal grill more often lately, and we find that if you use a chimney starter, it really doesn’t take terribly long for the coals to be ready—usually by the time we’ve sipped some wine and made a salad. This colorful bean and corn salad goes together in a snap, and the leftovers are always good for lunch the next day. You could also serve the fish with this Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salsa.

COOKING THE STRIPED BASS:

Have the fish market clean and gut a whole striped bass (the one in the photos is about 1 3/4 – 2 pounds), leaving the head and tail on.

Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity of the fish. Lightly rub about two teaspoons of olive oil on each side of the fish and season with salt and pepper.

We use charcoal for the flavor but if you only have a gas grill that’s fine—it will just not have the same wood-grilled flavor.

Build a fire in grill using whatever method you use—we use a chimney starter. Once the coals are glowing place them in center of grill. Allow grate to get very hot with lid on for a few minutes. 

When grate is hot rub some cooking oil on the grate using tongs with a piece of folded up paper towel dipped in oil.

Place fish on hot part of grill for about 5 or 6 minutes (depends on thickness of fish). Do not touch it while it cooks. 

Flip and cook other side for about the same amount of time.  It is done when it starts to flake apart and no longer looks pinkish.

Easy Bean Salad

Yield: Serves 6-8 as a side dish

  • one can red kidney beans
  • one can chickpeas
  • one can black beans
  • 2 ears roasted corn, cut off the cob (2 cups frozen corn, cooked, can be substituted)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 3 or 4 thin slices red onion, diced small
  • +/- 1/4 cup olive oil
  • +/- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • +/- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sake (optional)
  • dried or fresh oregano to taste
  • dried or fresh thyme to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Combine beans, corn, bell pepper and red onion in a large bowl.
  • Combine remaining ingredients in a measuring cup or small bowl, tasting as you add the seasonings (especially salt, since most canned beans contain salt). Mix well and pour over bean mixture.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more oil and vinegar if it seems too dry.
  • Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.
  • Notes

    The salad can be made in advance and stored in the fridge, just be sure to allow it to warm up a bit before serving.

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