This dish was the main course of the dinner party. We invited two sets of old friends, Anne, who used to be my husband's boss in the high and far off times, and her husband, Kent, and Carolyn, who used to work with him, and her husband, Len. As you can imagine, there was a lot of conversation about how much better things used to be, especially Congress.
It's hard to think of the Congress of the 80s as a paragon of bipartisanship and equity, but compared to the smarmy little twerps of today with their stupid posturing about family values while they are all sending shirtless pictures of themselves to young women they met on line and having relations with their staff members, Bob Michael et al. practically qualified for the Phil Hart award. (FYI. There is no Phil Hart award. If there was, it would be given to great guys and women in Congress.)
But it was very nice to see our friends. The whole fish thing, as usual, was somewhat fraught. I bought the ingredients at Whole Foods in a just before they closed foray and practically had heart failure when I saw they did not have raw clams. They had canned clams, so the panic was for naught. The problem with these dinners, when I am making four or five dishes for one meal is the pacing. I left the fish until 6:15, and neither of us could remember when we had asked people to come. I went belting up stairs at quarter to seven and made a washed and brushed appearance at 7:15 when everyone was sitting in the livingroom drinking wine.
But we haven't had a cooking disaster yet. This is not an overly complicated recipe. The fish dude guts the fish and decapitates it, and the stuffing is really simple. The directions say "lace with string." Now, my mother used to do that occasionally to chickens or turkeys. You stick in little skewers and then use string to lace it up like a boot. My advice is, you don't have to bother. The stuffing stays in just fine with a couple of toothpicks. About the soft bread crumbs. Just run some slices of French bread through the Cuisinart.
Striped Bass with Minced Clam Stuffing
1 four to six pound striped bass, cleaned
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 five ounce cans minced clams
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup butter melted
4 cups soft bread crumbs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wipe the fish with a damp paper towel. Sprinkle cavity with salt and pepper. Drain the clams, reserving the liquor.
3. Cook the onion and celery in half the butter until tender. stir in the bread crumbs until butter is absorbed. Toss crumbs until they brown slightly. Stir in the lemn juice, clams and enought clam liquor to moisten. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Spoon stuffing into cavity of fish. Close with skewers or lace with string. Brush fish with remaining butter. Bake in pan lined with aluminum foil fifty to 70 minutes or until fish flackes easily when tested with a fork. Serves 6 to 8.