With fisheries predominantly on the eastern seaboard, striped bass, a thick and meaty fish with a mild flavor, has begun to rebound from overfishing in the 1980s, thanks to sensible fishing practices. As a result, its population is increasing every year.
If you can’t find it wild, farmed striped bass is a good alternative because it’s raised sustainably.
When buying fish fillets, examine the flesh, which should be moist and glistening and without any large gaps.
Dry-looking flesh is a sign of age. Fresh fish should not smell strong or fishy but should have a mild, fresh scent suggestive of the sea.
When buying skin-on fillets, look for intact skin and make sure the scales were properly removed. Most fish skin is edible and delicious, especially when cooked until crisp.
Striped bass has a delicate, almost grassy flavor that’s similar to snapper but cleaner and less oily. Its delicate texture makes it well suited for sautéing, roasting, or steaming; grilling can be tricky, as the flesh tends to fall apart easily. It requires a little attention at the stove because it can quickly cross the line from juicy to overcooked. Striped bass plays well with other gentle flavors like leeks and mushrooms, or it can be a vehicle for assertive, spicy flavors, from Indian to North African.
Store all fish in the coldest part of your refrigerator and use soon after buying. To slow down spoilage, try this: Put whole fish or fillets in a large strainer set over a bowl. Pile ice high on top of the fish and refrigerate. The ice keeps the fish close to 32°F, and as it melts, the water continually rinses off bacteria and drains it into the bowl. Or put the fish in a plastic bag and set the bag on ice to maintain a temperature close to 33°F (spoilage occurs twice as fast at 40°F as it does at 32°).