After battling Vegan’s all day on the Internet I felt like I needed to kill something, but we’re fresh out of rabbits. With this nasty weather I simply don’t feel like cleaning a chicken. I checked the weather for rain and packed my fishing gear and split for the Marin Rod and Gun club pier. As I walked out onto the pier I announced to a fellow fisherman that I was “going to catch a fish on my first cast, my witch sense told me so.” Sure enough I reeled in a 10 inch striped bass first cast! I removed the hook doing no damage to the fish while wishing he was bigger! I gave him a quick kiss and hucked him back into the bay to grow up. Fishing was looking good or so I thought! I have not caught a striper since August 20th of this year. I then stood in the wind and spitting rain for two hours with nothing more than two Jack Smelt and a pretty big crab. I took great pleasure in feeding live Jack Smelt to the gulls, they eat the fish then weigh too much to fly away. I love the chatty gulls! I always give them treats. My friend John was fishing a few feet away and mentioned that “the fishing here really sucks.” I agreed announced that” I was cold, wanted a drink the fishing here really frigging suck’s ass and I am going in.” Then our dinner struck!
I was so surprised I almost dropped my rod in the water! What a fun fight! John expertly netted the fish and we hauled him in over the rail. I was worried that it might be under 18 inches the legal limit, but NO!!! 19 inches. YEAH! I looked up and Scott was walking down the pier towards me Smiling. I feel so good about catching and growing our dinner!
I was planning on making bacon-avocado cheeseburgers for dinner because some vegan a-hole was messing with Cassie. With Cassie, however, I always expect the unexpected. So, baked, salt-crusted sea bass. When I was preparing the fish, it was still twitching, so it doesn’t get any fresher than this.
Pick and finely chop whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. I harvested from the garden:
baby fennel fronds; flat-leaf parsley; variegated sorrel; a small amount of rosemary; new-growth leaves of lemon, lime and orange leaves (about 3 leaves of each type of citrus, more or less). For the herbs, it really doesn’t matter too much, except for the rosemary. For fish, it’s a strong herb so I only used a chopped teaspoon. I also added a medium green zebra tomato, de-seeded.
Remove the tough center vein from the citrus leaves. Chop 1-2 cloves of garlic — to taste. Mince everything together and place the chopped herbs & garlic in a small bowl. Add about 1 tsp each of lemon juice and white wine. Freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Allow this mixture to marinate while you prepare the oven and salt crust.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, combine one 3 pound box of kosher salt and about 1.5 cups of water. Mix together — the salt should have the consistency of just-wet snow. For a larger fish you’ll need to double or triple the salt (such as a salmon).
Stuff the fish cavity with the herb mixture. Rub about half of the mixture on the outside of the fish.
Place about one-third of the salt slush on a baking sheet lined with foil — spread out to create a “salt pad” for the fish. Place the fish on top of the salt pad and cover with the remaining salt slush. The salt should cover the entire main body of the fish — ok to have the head and tail uncovered by salt.
This will take a while to cook — this 3 pound striper will take about 45 minutes to completely.
Remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes. Crack the salt crust, brush off any excess salt and serve!