Bass

(MORONIDAE GROUP)  Confusingly, sea bass is a name used to identify several species of fish, but the group from the Moronidae family include several bass and perch, found in the temperate waters of the East and West Atlantic. They are mainly marine fish; in the wild they often locate to brackish and sometimes fresh water, specifically the American striped bass, which is a popular fish for recreational fishing. All members have sharp spines and a thick covering of scales that need to be removed prior to cooking. Bass is often compared to sea bream, and although in northern Europe sea bass is popular, in the Mediterranean  generally bream is the favourite. Its flavour is superb, and its popularity has meant that overfishing has caused stocks of these species to become threatened. There is now a legal minimum landing size in some areas for these species, while in others there is a closed season for recreational fishing.

Sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) Also known as bass, sea perch, and occasionally sea dace, this fish is found in the Eastern Atlantic from Norway to Senegal, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. It is extensively farmed in the Mediterranean, particularly in Greece. Farmed fish have a good flavour and fat deposits as a result of the feeding process. There is a catch size limit so a specimen of around 40cm (16in) is the norm. Traditionally cooked in a salt crust, also excellent en papilotte with aromatic flavours.

CUTS Whole unprepared fish, trimmed whole fish and fillets. Fish is scaled and rarely skinned.

EAT Grill, bake, pan-fry, and en papilotte (baking in parchment).

ALTERNATIVES Sea bream.

FLAVOUR PAIRINGS Oriental flavours such as fermented black beans, sesame, dark soy, and ginger. Mediterranean flavours including tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and red peppers. Pernod and other ingredients that have a hint of aniseed.

CLASSIC RECIPE Branzino in salt.

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