You might call it Striped Bass CPR. Or The Fish That Resuscitates. Or Grilled Fish Worth Coming Back For…
Our neighbor , Scott, goes fishing a few times a year and comes back with heaps of striped bass or blackfish for his freezer. Scott and his wife, Teresa, always run over a plastic ziploc bag with a pound or so for us, which we try to cook up gratefully and immediately. It freezes well, but there is nothing like the freshness and beautiful texture of fish practically still flapping.
Last week, my dad had a heart attack on the very day Teresa called me about bringing the fish over.
My mom and I were pretty preoccupied, as you might imagine, but not too preoccupied to say no to the fish. We believed that the old man would be coming home to eat it — despite the heart attack and the strictures of his crazy-ass diet — but we didn’t quite know when. And even if he decided to stay on the crazy-ass diet upon return from the hospital, well, he would still have to prepare it for us, wouldn’t he? Someone has to; this is one of the oddball, selfish, inexplicable thoughts that strike you when you are drowning in the panic that you are about to lose someone dear: “He can’t die! I don’t know how to work that grill!”
So we stuck the fish in the freezer to keep it fresh for his eventual return. “He’s got to come back. There is striped bass waiting for him in the freezer!” There was a bit of “He has to come back; he hasn’t taken Leandro fishing yet” as well. The strange logic of hope and faith, as if a to-do list were enough to compel a dying man to stay on earth when his spirit’s GPS is set for another dimension. And yet, perhaps it’s not so strange to think so.
Return he did, although there were some very touch-and-go scary moments along the way.
About a week after the cardiac event, there he was, grilling that fish on the deck for Fourth of July, almost, almost, but not quite, as if nothing had ever happened. And the fish came out as if it had never seen the inside of a freezer.
Here is Pedro’s lovely recipe for perfect grilled fish (which he did indeed eat, crazy-ass diet be damned. I mean, after a close brush with death, wouldn’t you just have to say fuck it, this diet ain’t working, pass me the real food?).
It is seasoned just enough to let the freshness sing a song of the sea. And for us to sing a song of gladness. Can the fishing trip with Leandro be far behind?
Perfect Grilled Fish (by Pedro, hurray, hurray!)
1lb filleted striped bass or other firm white fish
Juice of one lemon (about ¼ Cup)
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp adobo powder
A grill basket
A lemon sliced into thin rounds
Salt filets lightly on all sides. Place in bowl and squeeze lemon over. Turn filets until coated and refrigerate about 15 minutes, or until edges begin to turn opaque and white. Remove filets from bowl, discarding lemon juice and wiping out bowl. Rinse filets, pat dry, and put back in bowl. Cover with olive oil and adobo powder and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Brush the grill basket lightly with oil. Place filets flat on grill basket (reserving oil and adobo juices in the bowl for brushing while grilling). Cook on a medium hot grill for about two minutes. Turn over and brush with reserved oil and cook for another two minutes. Lay lemon slices on each filet and cook for another minute or two, until fish is opaque, but not dry.
Serve garnished with lemon slices.