Foray to the fish shop: seabass
Our articles on fish shops are back, this time we are discovering a well-loved fish that is easy to find in our coastal waters, and because of its popularity is known with many names: this is the seabass.
Sea bass, striped bass, rock cod, striper, known in Liguria as “luasso”, there are a number of names for this fish, appreciated and widespread along the coastlines of our country and the new star of our “Foray to the fish shop”.
For this type of fish we will also explain how to recognise its freshness, and, because it is so easy to find it will be a good test run to choose a fresh specimen: the smell, the eye, the flesh and gills are the characteristics which should be looked at by an attentive buyer. In fishmongers, sea bass can be found at 45 euros per kilo, but buying directly from the fisherman is always best: you can save up to 50%.
Sea bass live in the temperate waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and eastern Atlantic, generally along coastal waters and exceptionally up to a hundred or so meters depth.
Dicentrarchus labrax, this is the Latin name for sea bass, has a long, tapered, slightly compressed and with a fairly high caudal peduncle. Its head is robust and ends with a large mouth full of tiny teeth, which allow the sea bass to capture and swallow prey over 45% bigger than its body.
It has two distinct dorsal fins, differently from other species belonging to the serranidae family, who only have one.
Average size is around 45–60 centimetres but an adult can reach over a metre and a half in length and 15kg in weight.
Sea bass is one of the most desired catches for sports fishing, it is fished with all the techniques in fresh, briny and sea water. Preferred bait are worms, fish, both alive and dead (particularly appreciated, even though prohibited by law, are small eels) shrimp and a number of different artificial baits. This type of fish is also caught by professional fishermen, for the money that can be made: it is fished mostly with trawling and gill netting.
In particular, the sea bass in the photographs accompanying this article, weighs 5 kilos, and was fished in western Liguria, with a 50 hook trawl, using peanut worm and sardine bait.
RECOGNISING FRESH SEA BASS:
Buying a sea bass, as mentioned in the beginning, can be a test run to learn how to choose fresh fish. The flesh is white and very firm, it has a lead grey back with silver sides. There are also other characteristics that need to be evaluated when buying fresh fish: the smell, it should smell of the fresh sea, it should not smell like ammonia; the eyes should be lively, shiny and should bulge; the flesh should be firm and elastic to the touch; the gills should be bright and vibrant, not sagging.
Sea bass has a lot of bones, in exchange it can be cooked in a number of ways, among these the easiest but also tastiest is cooking with coarse salt: for a 5 kilo fish you need 10 kilos of coarse salt, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, all cooked in a wood oven.
The photographs are the property of Liguria Nautica and can be reproduced through the use of an active link and credit.