Bass is a variety of fish. Actually the term covers several different species of the Moronidae family. This Entry concerns the Sea Bass (Dicentrarchus), not the Striped Bass (Morone). It concerns a kind of guitar even less, and is only remotely linked to beer.
The Life of Sea Bass
Sea bass is a rather large fish, about 40 to 70cm length and 1 to 3kg weight in average. Particularly large individuals might be more than 1m and weigh about 12kg. A sea bass's life expectancy is about four years in the wild, though they can actually live up to 20 years1.
The body of a sea bass is covered with large, regular scales. Its colour varies between individuals; it is usually dark grey to green on the back and white on the belly. There are two fins on the back; one of them is endowed with sharp pikes which can be used as a defence against predators.
Sea bass can mainly be found in the North Atlantic ocean, between 30°N and 70°N latitude (that is, between Morocco and northern Norway), but also in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Its large caudal tail makes it a strong swimmer. As a consequence, it doesn't mind living in currents or agitated sea. It tends to stay in shallow waters, rather close to the coasts. However, being remarkably tolerant to wide variations of salinity, you can also find sea bass in some rivers, up to 10km away from the river's mouth.
The sea bass, especially the younger ones, usually live in schools. They are sensitive to sounds: while they are attracted by softer noises, any violent noise will make them swim away.
They are fierce carnivorous hunters who feed not only on smaller fish (such as sardines or herring), but also on crustaceans, seashells or squids. In time, they develop a wide range of preying techniques, allowing older sea bass to eat fewer, but larger prey.
From a Human's Point of View
Although not an endangered species, there exists a definite threat of over-fishing. This is due to the fact that sea bass are a slow-growing species and the fishing methods are becoming increasingly efficient.
One of the reasons for sea bass being so popular is its tasty and delicate white flesh. There are numerous ways to prepare sea bass, from general fish recipes to Turkish stew. We suggest two more recipes here, an easy-going summer sort and a more formal one.
Sea Bass in Champagne: for 8 - 10 people.
- About 3kg sea bass (1 or 2 fish)
- 6 grey shallots, minced
- 12 large portobello mushrooms, minced
- 200g salted butter
- 1 liter crème fraîche
- half a lemon
- 1 bottle of Champagne brut
- salt and pepper
The preparation goes like this:
- Scale, gut and wash the fish; don't skin it yet.
- Grease an oven-proof dish, sprinkle shallots and mushrooms on the bottom and lay the fish on top. Salt and pepper a little. Add the champagne.
- Cover the dish with aluminium foil and cook at 200°C for about 35 minutes. Sprinkle often with own juice.
- When the fish is cooked, drain it and arrange on a serving plate. Cover it with another plate to keep it warm.
- Pour the cooking juice in a sauce pan and heat until half of it is gone. Add the cream and reduce again by half.
- Reduce heat and add little by little the softened butter while stirring continuously.
- When the sauce isn't boiling anymore, add lemon juice and season if needed.
- Strain and pour into a sauce boat.
- Remove the fish skin and decorate with lemon slices.
- Serve hot with the sauce.