John Cole, in his fine book Striper: A Story of Fish and Men, paid tribute to a species that swims through our country’s history, angling and otherwise. Stripers also form one of the more interesting fisheries biology success stories: This anadromous species can now be reared successfully in hatcheries and spend its entire life in fresh water. It is the state fish of a number of states and is now found far beyond its original range.
Also known as rockfish, they make excellent table fare—just remember to remove the blood line. While stripers can be prepared in many ways, they are especially well-suited for baking.
2 pounds striped bass fillets
1 cup sour cream
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 fresh tomato
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange fillets in a greased baking dish. Mix the sour cream, half of the cheese (one-quarter cup), onion, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Spread evenly over the fillets. Sprinkle liberally with paprika.
Bake until the fish flakes easily. Layer very thin tomato slices (Hint: if you don’t have a serrated tomato knife, get one; it’s a great kitchen tool) atop the fish and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top. Broil until the cheese is light brown, garnish with parsley, and serve while piping hot.
Tip: This recipe works with other white fish as well, such as cod, flounder, or wahoo.
“Easy as duck soup” is an expression I’ve heard all my life, although I’ve never taken the time to check on the origin of the phrase. The meaning though, as I’ve heard it used, refers to something simple or easily accomplished. In that context, this recipe for duck soup is easy as … well, duck soup.
1 large or two small ducks, cut into small pieces
6-8 cups water
2 celery ribs with leaves, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
6 chicken bouillon cubes or the equivalent in saved duck stock or chicken base
2-3 ounces thin noodles
Place all the ingredients except the noodles in a large kettle or stew pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for two to three hours. Skim as necessary, adding more water if the soup becomes too thick.
Meat may be removed from the bones as it becomes tender, then chopped and added back to the broth. Alternatively, you can go the easy way and let diners debone as they eat.
Add noodles as a final step and cook until the pasta is done. Serve with a crusty French bread for dipping.
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