My journey to eat fish was a long, arduous, and scary one, but recipes such as this roasted whole bass with beet greens salsa make it worthwhile. Up until about four years ago I had severe insensitivities to fish. I’m talking Hitch like full facial swell ups, eyes like Rocky post 12 rounds, and tight almost completely shut esophagus type insensitivities. From childhood to adulthood I tried different types of fish – catfish, bass fish, trout fish, salmon fish, baked fish, grilled fish, fried fish, etc. all met with the same violent allergic reactions. So pardon me for being a little gun shy after the benadryl runs and nauseated bathroom floor naps. However despite the many issues and beat downs, I remained steadfast in my desire to break bread with my family over a plate of fish.
You ask why, and the answer is very simple – I love my family dearly and my immediate and extended families both love fish. As a child we had weekly Friday night fish fries where all the Browns and neighbors came and celebrated and had fellowship. For years I was that one kid, that one family member that had “somethin wrong with him”. Later in adulthood as a parent, head of the household the same issues persisted. We eat dinner together most nights but for a long term were never been able to be all in withdinner options given my limitations. They’d wait til I was away for business trip to have their family meal over fish.
I tried all sorts of remedies – drinking aloe vera juice, premedicating on benedryl, etc. to no avail. The breakthrough occurred during a conversation with my kids’ allergist. He was as determined as I was to overcome my fish issues. He developed a plan to develop a fish tolerance. So each week I would add small doses of fish oil to my diet usually hidden in a smoothie. Overtime we incrementally increased the dosage until doses were pretty substantial which meant i was ready to graduate to tasting actual fish. We stared with small portions all consumed in his office and again incrementally increased the serving size until I was comfortable and confident trying a full serving. All of this occurred over about a year’s time. Eventually we began to sample different types of fish, but I always had my Epi-Pen on hand. I continued to eat fish, but it was never a fully enjoyable experience as mentally there was always that fear even if it was subconcious. I’m operating at about 95% confidence now, which is more than enough to become a fish snob! Most importantly we broke down a major barrier to more family time.
This whole fish recipe calls for black bass, but this was merely due to the fact that it was the freshest fish for my needs that my fish guy had on hand. Trout or branzino would have worked just as well if not better. I’ve become a huge fan of whole fish. One there seems to be much more flavor when cooked fully intact, the presentation is awesome and adds to the experiene of eating, and the bones can later be use to make homemade fish stock. Just make sure you have your fish guy do all the dirty work in terms of scaling, cleaning, gutting, etc. It’s still probably a good idea to check for scales anyway just in case especially if you run into a situation as I did recently when I had a newbie handling my order. The beet greens salsa from my earlier post puts this fish recipe over the top. The fresh herbs and earthy spices are a perfect complment to the bass fish.
Roasted Whole Black Bass
- 2 whole rainbow trout fish about 1 pound each, scaled, gutted and cleaned
- 2 lemons thinly sliced
- Kosher salt or fine sea salt
- ¼ cup olive oil for the cooking pan
- 4 tablespoons Beet Greens Salsa Verde (recipe below)
Score each side of fish diagonally creating about 3 slits per side
Heat oven to 475 F.
Rinse the exterior and interior of the fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
Season inside of fish with salt, pepper, lemon slices, and salsa. Close the fish
Place a cast iron skillet over high heat and add the olive oil.
Sear the fish for 3 minutes then flip over with a spatula and repeat.
Spoon additional salsa into the diagonal slits of the fish.
Place pan and fish in the oven and roast for another 3 minutes. Remove and let fish rest. Serve wih lemons
Trout or branzino can easily be substituted
Beet Greens Salsa
This magical salsa is pretty much good on anything from meats to vegetables.
- 1/2 cup beet greens
- ¼ cup cilantro
- ¼ cup parsley
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/3 cup Olive oil
- 1 Lemon juiced
Combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. This should not be a puree texture, but instead grainy/leafy.