Native to the rivers of North America, this bass looks a lot like the Striped Bass, but it inhabits only fresh water and does not venture to sea. These fish can grow to almost 18 inches and 6-3/4 pounds but the one in the photo was 13-1/4 inches and weighed 1 pound 6 ounces, a little larger than the average market size. This fish is now farmed on an experimental basis and is not listed as threatened.
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This fish can be filleted and pan fried, pan fried whole or pan dressed, steamed, baked, grilled, or poached whole. When steamed with the usual slashes, skin shrink opens the slashes some but not so much as to be unattractive. The flesh is off white with a thin somewhat darker layer just under the skin. It has a pleasant flavor by any means of cooking.
Buying: This fish can often be found in Asian markets here in Los Angeles, sometimes for as little as 2010 US $1.29 / pound. Of course that's a "no cut, no clean" price, so it's all up to the purchaser. Though it is easy to confuse this fish with the saltwater Striped Bass, getting the wrong one isn't a big problem as they are much alike.
Prep: The scales on this fish are medium size and scrape off quite easily with only moderate flying about. There are no particular problems gutting this fish, and the gills pull out fairly easily, but you may want to use kitchen shears to cut them loose at the bottom end. This is an easy fish to fillet. When you get to the rib cage just cut the ribs from the backbone with kitchen shears and pull them from the fillet with long nose pliers - they pull fairly easily.
Skin: The skin has modest shrink, but enough to curl a fillet in a frying pan. If you press the fillet back flat with your turner the skin quickly looses its grip and the fillet will continue to fry flat. Fillets can be skinned quite easily with the long knife and cutting board Method, but it does not have a strong or unpleasant flavor, so can be left on for most forms of cooking.
Yield: A 1 pound 5-5/8 ounce fish yielded 9-7/8 ounces of skin-on fillet (46%) and 8-1/2 ounces skin off (39%).
Stock: The head, bones and fins make a pleasant usable fish stock with moderate oil. Separate the oil using your gravy separator before use.