Some find it offensive that I eat bass. The looks that I get while carrying a stringer full of smallmouth are startling. Apparently, somewhere along the way, bass have become an untouchable. But, bass is a white and tender meat that’s simply delicious. I like to compare it to snapper for those who are pescaphiles. It cooks quickly, a quick sear and pan roast in the oven is all that is needed. Take note, though. Older bass can accumulate some toxins in their bodies, specifically in their fat. Do some research before keeping your catch and see if there are any restrictions on eating the fish. I recommend staying clear of the fat, regardless of where the fish was caught.
For those who have yet to eat bass, a good place to start is with a simple recipe like the one below. Fortunately, the dish demands a bit of fishing and foraging. In the culinary world, the common refrain is, “If it grows together, it goes together.” If the seasons of things line up, the food can be served with one another. Think halibut and asparagus, or peas and mint, or potatoes and venison. In summer, when bass are often caught, “wild greens” tend to be fully mature which can be a problem because the tender leafiness of the greens can be what is so appealing about them. However, even if your greens are fully mature, have no fear, tenderness can be regained with a knife and a little butter.
One of my favorite summer time greens is Lamb's Quarter. It is a very common “weed” in much of the Northwest. So much so that I find myself pulling it from my own garden patch to make room for something else.
Fancy cooked meals in a single pan are like ghosts – people say that they exist, but it is hard to believe. That said, this really is a one-pan “fancy” meal that feeds two.
Prosciutto Wrapped Bass Fillet with Sweet Potatoes and Sautéed Lambs Quarter
- 1 medium sized sweet potato
- 2 skinned and deboned bass filets (1 whole fish)
- 2 slices of prosciutto, thin
- 2 tbs butter
- ¼ small onion, sliced
- 1 cup lamb's quarter, or spinach, sliced thin
- ½ cup white cabbage, diced
- Salt and pepper
- Green onion for garnish
- Olive oil for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a small knife, stab the sweet potato multiple times to puncture the skin. Microwave the sweet potato for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave and let it relax on the counter while you prep the rest of the meal.
- Cut each fillet in half lengthwise. Lay one-half of the fillet on top of the other. Place the fillet “stack” on a slice of prosciutto, then wrap the fish. Flip the fish over so the seam side of the prosciutto wrap is on the cutting board. Repeat with the other fillet.
- Heat a medium sized skillet on medium-low for about 2 minutes. Add half of the butter and place the fish, prosciutto seam side down, in the pan. Turn the heat up to medium. Let the fish cook for 3-4 minutes, until it no longer sticks to the pan and the prosciutto has a golden-brown color. Remember, meat will let go of the pan when it is ready to be flipped. If you need a spatula to scrape the meat off the bottom of the pan, it’s not ready. While the fish is cooking, slice the sweet potato into ½-inch “coins.”
- Move the fish fillets to the upper corner of the pan. Add the remaining butter, along with the coins and the onions. Let it all cook on medium for 2-3 minutes.
- Next, add the lamb's quarter and cabbage on top of the sweet potatoes. Season it all with salt and pepper. Place the pan in the oven for 5 minutes.
- To plate, remove the fish from the pan. Reserve on a plate. Next, arrange half the greens in a small pile in the center of each plate. Shingle the sweet potato coins on top of the greens. Then place a fish bundle on top of the sweet potatoes. Garnish with green onion and olive oil.
Photos by Author