As table fare, white bass rates in the fair-to-middlin' zone. You will greatly improve the flavor factor of your fillets by handling them properly. In addition, white bass have a dark red lateral line (sometimes called the mud line or blood line); remove this when you clean the fish. This high-protein, low-fat recipe makes a zingy Asian-style appetizer. Make the dipping sauce and fish cakes ahead of time, and plate them in a heartbeat.
1 pound white bass fillets, lethal line removed, cut into chunks
1 red jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/2 cup minced fresh chives, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
6 green beans, stringed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish
Juice of 3 Key limes
1 tablespoon red curry paste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
For the Thai dipping sauce:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup organic light brown sugar
2 tablespoons organic soy sauce
2 teaspoons tapioca flour
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Place the bass, jalapeño, 1/2 cup chives, the green beans, 2 tablespoons cilantro, the lime juice, and curry paste in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse just until mixture forms uniformly small chunks, retaining some texture and color.
Use a spatula to transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Using a tablespoon or 1 1/2-inch sherbet scoop, form 1 1/2-inch balls and use your fingers to flatten them into little cakes. Place on baking sheet, lightly cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To make the Thai dipping sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan with 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and turns from opaque to clear. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving. Yields about 1 cup.
To cook the fish cakes, heat the oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and fry the cakes in batches for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, then arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining chives and cilantro. Save with the Thai dipping sauce.