"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

When I get elbow room in the kitchen, anything can happen, occasionally including a right-palatable dish.

And so it was on a recent evening in my kitchen.

I had thawed a sizeable chunk of a striped bass filet fetched home from New Jersey’s Great Bay. Din-din was long since past, but I didn’t want to take the chance of losing that beautiful piece of white, flaky fish (scales removed, skin on).

What to do? Baking or frying would have been fine, I thought, but how about steaming? Why not?

Skin side down, I placed the filet in a nine-inch skillet (not iron) with cover, and covered it with half a cup of finely-chopped onion and a handful of crumbled dried hen-of-the-woods mushroom. Then with a few small pats of Blue Bonnet scattered about the top, I poured in three ounces of liquid (50-50 water/wine mix). (Incidentally, in my kitchen the commercial is true: “Everything is better with Blue Bonnet on it.") 

After salting and peppering my creation liberally, I put on the cover and turned the stovetop burner to medium to get things going. Once I had steam, I turned the heat down to simmer and walked away for 45 minutes.

On my return, I burned my finger removing the cover but I was greeted by a beautiful, tasty piece of fish. The onions were well cooked, the mushrooms were soft and chewy, and the white flakes of fish dislodged with a fork were tantalizing.

OK as is, I told myself. Suitable for serving with veggies and a salad. But I was not finished.

With a large metal turner, I removed the filet from the skillet and placed it on a small plate. Then, with the turner, I gouged the fish skin, onion and mushroom pieces, and whatever else was stuck to the bottom of the skillet. That done, I sprinkled in three tablespoons of flour, and more salt and pepper. When the flour was turning pasty, I stirred in another two ounces of wine/water mix and let medium heat make a sauce (gravy) while I stirred it constantly.

When the sauce reached the consistency of my choice (not quite as thick as gravy), I poured it over the filet in a shallow baking dish with top.

After invoking C’s P (cook’s prerogative), I taste-tested my creation on some Keebler Club crackers (the official cracker in my kitchen). I described it in three words: Fan tas tic! I would microwave it the next day and serve it for din-din with the aforementioned veggies and a green salad, or maybe sliced, chilled tomatoes with cottage cheese.

That part of the plan hit a snag. Next morning, when my tummy grumbled, I wondered how my fish dish would taste cold on a Keebler. By this time the sauce had jelled a bit, but was still “spready.” 

Forget the fish dinner. Meet my new chilled appetizer. 


All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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