5 Simple Ways to Cook Freshwater Bass Fillets

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I release nearly all of my bass, but when I do keep a few, I have several preparations that render them delicious. I make sure to take good care of the fish that I will cook.

When I fillet bass I end up with a skinless, boneless piece of meat. I wash them off and put them into plastic zip-closure bags, dividing them into meal-size packages. After the fish go into the bag I put about a tablespoon of salt in the bag and fill it with water, then squeeze out any air and seal it. Sitting in the refrigerator for a day or so in the salted water seems to improve the flavor. 

When I'm ready to cook the fish, I rinse them in tap water, and dry them on a paper towel. Here are five  simple ways to cook them.

Deep fried.  For frying, I roll the fillets in corn meal, and drop them into a deep-fat cooker. They brown in about five minutes and are ready to eat. They're delicious accompanied by cole slaw, French fries, and a sliced tomato.

Another option is to make a batter of equal-parts flour and corn meal moistened with milk. Make a thick coating on the fillets and drop them into hot oil in a deep fat fryer. The fillet inside the crust is moist and will put any fast food fish to shame.

Baked with butter and onion. My wife likes baked fish so she sometimes places fillets in a baking dish with a few dots of butter on top. Then she covers them with a sliced onion and some garlic powder and cooks it in the microwave for a few minutes. It's simple and quick.

Baked with hot sauce. I like baked fillets a little spicier. So I put them in a small baking dish, cover them with picante sauce and microwave them for 5 minutes. They come out spicy and tasty with a baked potato and a salad. Cooking in the microwave is very easy and both methods produce low fat results.

Breaded and baked. For a very good baked fish, I take some dry stuffing mix, crush it into a powder and coat the fillets with it. I lay the fillets into a baking dish, put a pat of butter on top of each, and cook them in the microwave for about 5 minutes. They have a completely different taste than any other way I cook them, the stuffing mix gives them a very good flavor.

Pan fried with Italian dressing. I like to occasionally cook fillets in a frying pan using a wrinkle that  discovered by accident years ago. After frying burgers for lunch, I keep the grease in the pan. At dinner time, I get the pan very hot and put dry-patted fillets into the pan with nothing on it.

When the fillets begin to turn white around the edges, I turn them over and pour a little Italian salad dressing on them. By the time they cooked through, the dressing has flavored them and they are nicely brown on both sides. They taste like grilled swordfish when cooked that way, and with a baked potato and salad make an excellent meal.

This article was edited and revised by our Freshwater Fishing expert, Ken Schultz.