Black Sea Bass
Blackfish, rock bass, black bass, bluefish, tallywag
Black sea bass, a small, plump fish related to grouper, is one of the most important commercial bass species. These bass begin life as males and become females between the ages of 2 and 5. Attractive fish, they lend themselves to display in live tanks. Mature animals have an even pattern of white diamonds along their dark sides, which are generally smoky gray, dusky brown or bluish black. Black sea bass are found from Rhode Island to Florida and are caught by trawl nets, longlines, hand lines and fish traps. Hooked fish offers best quality, followed by trapped. Sea bass can grow to about 8 pounds, but most are harvested at 1 1/2 to 3 pounds and shipped live to ethnic markets in the United States and Canada. Some fish dealers report that black sea bass remain odor-free longer than other species. Many fish on the market have the word bass in their name. Black sea bass is often confused with striped bass or tautog, which is also called blackfish.
Black sea bass has a mild, fresh, somewhat delicate flavor and a tender but firm texture. Uncooked flesh should be sparkling white and translucent, not opaque. The firm, lean meat cooks up snow white. Be careful handling whole fish; a jab from the dorsal-fin spines can be very painful.These fish are notably hardy and hold up well as a live product. They also offer excellent shelf life fresh. It is typically frozen only when demand is low or the market is glutted.
One of the best small fish to bake or grill whole, due to its relatively simple bone structure, black sea bass is frequently used in Chinese cooking. Try it with a ginger-and-soy-sauce dip. The flesh holds together well and can be used in chowders and soups. The skin is very attractive, so don’t hesitate to display it when serving.
Dogfish, Grouper, Rockfish