I am probably a vegetarian about 80% of the time, but during the other 20% I love to enjoy foods like this freshly caught Black Sea Bass. I have lived near the Atlantic ocean my whole life, and fish was always part of our diet because my father's favorite hobby is fishing.  Fresh seafood wasn't always part of our family meals, as I still cringe thinking about the frozen fish sticks my mother would serve us as children.  We have come a long way since my father has gotten a boat, and we are now enjoying fresh fish from the deep sea off the coast or out of the bay waters of New Jersey.

    Black sea bass is one type of fish that you can find off the coast of New Jersey in "artificial reefs."  I have gone a few times with my father to fish for these because the deep sea tuna fishing is reserved for my brother (and other men with the arm strength that I just don't have).  The fish pictured above is actually not one that we caught.  Hurricane Sandy forced my father to winterize his boat, so we were shut down early this year.  I did however find my dinner at the local grocery store and it was a locally caught fish, which is why he landed a ride in my shopping cart (I generally don't buy farm raised fish)

    Roasting fish is so incredibly easy, throw it in a pan with some aromatics and pop it in the oven. I listed a few things that I like to use below, but you could try any other fresh vegetables, herbs and citrus that you like.  The only hard part is figuring out how to cut up the fish afterwards.  When I have any questions regarding "how to do something" in cooking I refer to this book, Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson.  In this book you can find picture by picture instructions on how to de-bone and serve your fish.  However the best tool to learn how to do this is by watching someone else do it.  I have been watching my father cut up fish for most of my life so that's how I learned.  If you want to watch someone de-bone a fish check out this guy!
The two pictures above are of some of the black sea bass we caught on the reefs.

Whole Roasted Black Sea Bass

Serves 2-4 people

1 (2 to 4-pound) whole black sea bass (or any other fish like snapper, trout, striped bass, etc.)
 *When you get your fish ask the person at the counter to remove the guts and gills, and scale the fish for you.  You could also ask them to cut off the fins, but that is easy enough to do on your own.

2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 bunch of fresh parsley
1 bunch of fresh dill
*You could also use fennel, fennel fronds, fresh chives, celery leaves, fresh rosemary, cilantro or any other type of fresh herb you like
.
2 Mayer Lemons, sliced (or regular lemons or even oranges)
1 shallot, sliced (or onion)
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated (or sliced thin)

A splash of white wine

Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Rinse your fish and pat it dry with some paper towels.  You could either choose to cut off the fins with kitchen shears or leave them on (I cut them off because it is easier to de-bone later).  Set the fish aside while you prepare the pan.  Coat the bottom of a large baking dish or roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Lay down enough herbs to cover the bottom of the pan because you don't want the fish to touch the bottom of the pan.  On top of the herbs lay down the lemon slices, shallot slices, and grated or sliced fresh ginger.  Generously season the fish with salt and pepper, both inside and out, and place it on top of your bed of herbs and lemon.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of white wine over the top of the fish.  Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. (Or until the meat is flaky and a thermometer inserted into the center reads 120° F.)  Let the fish rest on the counter for 5 minutes before you start to de-bone and serve it.  (I like to serve fish with some roasted potatoes or fresh vegetables)
The finished product may not look as stunning, but it sure tastes great!
 


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