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What Is a Bass Fillet?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated Feb 22, 2024
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A bass fillet is a piece of flesh from a bass that contains no bones. Made by cutting the sides of the fish away from the spine and rib cage, a bass fillet can be served with the skin either on or off of the meat. Many recipes call for a bass fillet due to the thickness of the cut and the tendency of the fillet to cook evenly through. Most chefs will fold the thin area of the tail end of the fillet over in order to make it equal with the thickness of the other end of the fish. This promotes even cooking on the entire length of the fish fillet.

There is typically a lot of leftover fish flesh on the carcass once the bass fillet has been removed. This fish flesh is commonly used to make fish broth or a bouillabaisse-type soup, preventing any of the fish from being wasted. Bass fillet can be used in recipes that call for the fish to be grilled, baked or fried. The bass is generally regarded by many who eat fish to be a mildly-flavored fish. The fish is easily seasoned and prepared in many styles, from Cajun and French to Italian. While the skin is typically left on the bass fillet for frying, it is removed for many baked dishes.

There are several species of bass that lend themselves to being filleted. White, black and striped bass are all excellent fish to use in a variety of cooking styles. Whether it be a large or small mouth bass from a freshwater lake or stream or a sea bass from salt water, the bass fillet is often the principle manner of preparing the fish for presentation and cooking. Bass, unlike many fish, do not have an abundance of small rib bones that can become a choking danger even when filleted; however, it is always best to use some degree of caution when eating any fish that could contain bones.

Many chefs use a sharp knife to make several cuts through the skin side of the fish prior to cooking. This not only allows the heat to evenly penetrate the thick piece of fish, but the slices allow the skin to expand and eliminate the curling of the fish as it cooks. The cuts can be made at the time of scaling if a marinade is going to be used. This will allow the flavor of the marinade to enter the bass fillet on both sides, which adds flavor to the fish.

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