Historical note: Long before the Europeans set foot in America, the striped bass was the most prolific fish on the Atlantic seacoast. Upon entering Chesapeake Bay in the early 1600's, Capt. John Smith noted their abundance, stating that "one could walk drishod across the bay upon their backs." The Pilgrims found striped bass to be a great resource and used funds generated from the sale of striped bass to England to build the first school in New England. The Pilgrims were also the first to use the now famous method of surf casting from beaches to catch them.
From Kerry: while this a bit tricky to fillet, it is undoubtedly one of my favorite creations and it ALWAYS draws the most incredible "wow" of any dish I have ever prepared… it's a refreshing take on a Thanksgiving entrée and the protein was one that the pilgrims had access to – like venison, wild turkey, etc.
1 striped bass, approx 10 pounds (30")... you could substitute snapper or salmon
3/4 lb fresh crabmeat (maine, maryland or dungeness), picked clean
1 cup diced toasted white bread
2 eggs and 1/2 cup heavy cream blended together
1 small onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
6 sprigs marjoram, picked of stems
10 sprigs parsley, picked of stems + roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 tbs butter
Scale bass, + trim off all fins, leaving head + tail intact.
Gut + fillet from dorsal side, leaving only one incision that runs nearly the length of the fish.
Remove entrails + rinse well.
Remove spine, pin + "chest" bones, as well as any remnants of fins inside flesh taking care not to "puncture" the fish or damage the integrity of the skin as it will eventually serve to hold everything together.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a large heavy bottomed skillet, sweat the onion + celery in 2 of the 4 tbs of butter, seasoning with salt + pepper, for 5 minutes.
Add garlic + stir again; remove from heat, add herbs, diced bread + crabmeat + 1/2 of the egg/cream mixture.
Gently work stuffing to ensure that it is barely combined + well moistened; add more egg/cream mixture if it seems dry but not so much as to make it too "soggy".
Dry + season inside of bass with salt + pepper.
Set bass upright with cavity exposed + gently fill with as much stuffing as you'd need to nearly recreate the size of the fish with entrails etc, (any extra can be formed and sautéed into cakes).
Using approx 20" of butcher twine, gently tie fish around the girth approx 6 times every 4" or so in the thickest sections... you want to nearly re-close the incision to the original shape of the fish; tie gently as stuffing will expand.
Coat exterior with remaining soft butter + season well with salt + pepper; roast in oven for approx 25 minutes until browned + nearly done (use a very sharp small knife to make an incision in the thickest part; flesh should appear just opaque)... it will "carry over" and continue cooking out of the oven as it "rests".
Allow to rest 15 minutes, remove strings very carefully + slice into bone-free pre-stuffed disks with an electric knife.