Striped Bass as Food: A Complete Guide to Taste, Preparation & Safety

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 30, 2022

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Striped bass is a great fish to eat, but it’s not the most popular due to its bony texture. However, with the right preparation, it’s absolutely delicious.

Native to the eastern coast of the United States, striped bass is a member of the sea bass family and has a unique striped pattern on its body. It’s also referred to as striper, striper bass, striper trout, and stringer.

In this article, I’ll provide you with all the information you need to know about this delectable fish and how to prepare it.

What is striped bass

Get to Know Striped Bass: A Comprehensive Guide to the Delicious Fish

Striped bass, also known as stripers, is a type of fish that is widely consumed for its delicious taste. It is native to the East Coast of the United States, but has been introduced to freshwater lakes and rivers in the West. Striped bass is a predator fish that feeds on smaller fish and is known to be a larger and more enticing prey for other predators. It is the largest fish in the bass family and can reach lengths of up to 6 feet and weigh up to 125 pounds.

Where Can You Find Striped Bass?

Striped bass is primarily found in coastal areas, such as the Chesapeake Bay and Cape Cod, where it migrates upriver in the spring to spawn. It is also available in the market and at fish shops, usually in the form of fresh or frozen fillets. In addition, farmed striped bass is also available on the menu of many restaurants.

Storing and Eating Striped Bass

When buying striped bass, it is important to look for fish that is fresh and has a firm texture. If you plan to store it in the freezer, make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. When it comes to eating striped bass, there are many different ways to prepare it, including grilling, baking, and frying. It is also a popular fish to use as bait for other types of fishing.

Commercial Fishing Season

The commercial fishing season for striped bass usually lasts from late June to early September, depending on the location. During this time, striped bass can be caught in large quantities and is a fixture in many seafood markets and restaurants.

Discovering the Unique Taste of Striped Bass

Striped bass is a fish that has a delicate, smooth, and flaky texture, making it a perfect choice for a variety of dishes. The primary flavor of striped bass is sweet and briny, with a hint of saltiness that is hardly noticeable. The flesh is white and dense, with just enough fat to make it seem almost buttery, but not so much as to make it oily. The taste of striped bass is highly superior to other fishes, and it’s a wonder that more people haven’t realized its benefits.

How Does Striped Bass Compare to Other Fishes?

When it comes to taste, striped bass is often compared to salmon, cod, and other marine fishes. However, the taste of striped bass is unique and unlike any other fish. The flavor profile of striped bass is driven by its natural diet, which consists of small fishes and crustaceans. This gives the fish a slightly sweet and briny taste that is unnoticeable in other fishes.

How to Enjoy the Taste of Striped Bass?

To fully enjoy the taste of striped bass, it’s best to keep the preparation simple. Grilled striped bass with a touch of lemon and bread crumbs is a popular dish that allows the natural flavors of the fish to shine. The skin of the fish is also edible and adds an extra element of flavor to the dish. Striped bass can also be used as a substitute for other fishes in recipes that call for a low-fat content.

How to Prepare Striped Bass for a Delicious Meal

  • Start by preheating the grill or skillet to a moderately high heat.
  • Brush the fillets with oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Place the fillets skin-side down on the grill or skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Flip the fillets and cook for another 2-3 minutes until fully cooked.
  • Transfer the cooked fillets to a plate and sprinkle with a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Making the Sauce

  • In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme.
  • Pour the mixture over the cooked fillets and let stand for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine.

Serving Suggestions

  • Garnish the fish with chopped scallions or chives for a pop of color and flavor.
  • Serve with a side of asparagus or other vegetables for a healthy and balanced meal.
  • For a heartier meal, add a starch like rice or potatoes to the plate.

Varieties of Striped Bass

  • Striped bass can be found in both wild and farmed varieties.
  • The wild version tends to have a firmer texture and a slightly sweeter taste, while the farmed version is generally milder in flavor.
  • Unlike other fish, striped bass has a natural white color and does not turn pink when cooked.

Storing Leftovers

  • If you have any leftovers, carefully transfer them to a shallow plastic container and cover with excess sauce.
  • Let the fish cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator.
  • When reheating, spoon the sauce over the fish and broil in a preheated oven until heated through.

Grilled Striped Bass: A Delicious Seafood Recipe

To make a delicious grilled striped bass, you need to gather the following ingredients:

  • 4 striped bass fillets
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons of mixed herbs (oregano, Italian seasoning, thyme, chives)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the marinade, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, mixed herbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

Grilling the Striped Bass

To grill the striped bass fillets, follow these steps:

  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  • Remove the fillets from the marinade and let the excess marinade drip off.
  • Place the fillets on the grill, skin-side down, and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  • Carefully flip the fillets using a spatula to prevent them from falling apart.
  • Once the fish is firm to the touch and opaque, remove it from the grill.

Tips from the Editors

  • When buying striped bass, make sure to check the market for the freshest fish available.
  • Ensure that the ingredients are measured in the right amounts to meet the recipe’s requirements.
  • Cooks should be careful not to overcook the fish, as it can become dry and tough.
  • Grilling over coals can add a nice smoky flavor to the fish.

Grilled striped bass is a delicious and healthy food that can be enjoyed by seafood lovers. With the right ingredients and cooking techniques, you can create a mouth-watering dish that will impress your guests. Try out different recipes and marinades to find the perfect combination that suits your taste buds.

Striped Bass: Safe or Sorry?

Striped bass is a delicious fish that many people enjoy, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks associated with consuming it. As stripers grow in size, their bodies accumulate mercury, PCBs, and other toxic chemicals. These contaminants can have serious health effects, especially for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The Food and Drug Administration recommends only 1 serving per week of striped bass (rockfish).
  • Larger, older fish tend to have higher levels of contaminants than smaller, younger fish.
  • Mercury and PCBs can accumulate in the fatty tissue of the fish, so it’s important to trim away any visible fat before cooking.
  • Grilling or broiling the fish can cause the fat to drip down into the flames, which can release the contaminants into the air. To minimize this risk, cook the fish on a piece of foil or a grilling basket.

Other Safety Concerns

In addition to the risks associated with contaminants, there are a few other safety concerns to keep in mind when handling and preparing striped bass:

  • Always wash your hands and any surfaces that come into contact with the fish to avoid cross-contamination with other foods.
  • Make sure the fish is fully cooked before eating. The internal temperature should reach 145°F (63°C).
  • If you’re fishing for striped bass yourself, be aware of any local advisories about eating fish from certain bodies of water. Some areas may have higher levels of contaminants than others.

Choosing the Best Striped Bass for Your Next Meal

When shopping for striped bass, it’s important to consider the size and type of fish you want. Striped bass can range from a few pounds to over 50 pounds, and there are different types available depending on where you are on the coast. The East Coast is home to wild striped bass, while the West Coast has striped bass that are typically farmed. Ask your fishmonger or market which type they have available.

Look for Freshness and Meatiness

Freshness is key when it comes to buying striped bass. Look for fish with clear eyes and a firm texture. The meat should be a bit heavy and have a natural, balanced smell. When you touch the fish, it should feel firm and not slimy. If you’re not planning on cooking the fish soon, it’s best to store it in the freezer as soon as possible.

Check for Skin and Bones

When buying striped bass, it’s important to check for skin and bones. The skin should be shiny and not slimy, and the scales should be intact. If you’re buying fillets, make sure they don’t have any bones. If you’re buying a whole fish, ask your fishmonger to remove the bones for you or swear by your sharp knife skills to do it yourself.

Consider the Flavor and Texture

Striped bass has an exceptionally sweet and smoky flavor that beats most other fish. The meat is thicker and has a coarser texture than other fish, making it perfect for grilling or baking. When cooked, the meat gives off a brilliant salty counterpoint that will leave you wanting more. If you’re looking for a lighter flavor, consider steaming or pan-searing the fish.

Getting the Best Out of Your Striped Bass

Once you’ve found the right striped bass, it’s time to cook it up. Here are some tips to help you get the best out of your fish:

  • Score the skin of the fish before cooking to prevent it from curling up
  • Dust the fish with salt and pepper before searing it in a hot skillet with olive oil or butter
  • Flip the fish after a few seconds to sear the other side
  • If you’re baking the fish, marinate it in your favorite sauce for a few hours before cooking
  • When grilling, use a sharp knife to cut triangles or discs from the cheeks of the fish for an appetizer that beats any other

Feeding Frenzy: What Do Striped Bass Devour in the Ocean?

Striped bass are known for their voracious appetite, and they’ll eat just about anything that fits into their wide, gaping mouth. Their diet includes a variety of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, making them a versatile predator in the ocean. Here are some of the types of food that striped bass commonly eat:

  • Fish: Striped bass will eat a wide variety of fish, including alewives, flounder, sea herring, menhaden, mummichogs, sand lance, silver hake, tomcod, smelt, silversides, and eels. Depending on where you live, local varieties of fish may also be on the menu.
  • Crustaceans: Lobsters, crabs, and small shrimp are all fair game for striped bass. They’ll also eat soft clams, small mussels, and sea worms.
  • Squid: Striped bass are known to go on feeding frenzies when schools of squid are present, making them a popular target for anglers.

Big Appetite, Big Fish: What Do Striped Bass Eat When They’re Fully Grown?

As striped bass grow larger, their diet tends to shift towards bigger prey. Here are some of the foods that larger striped bass may prefer:

  • Bluefish: These fish are a favorite of striped bass, and they’re often found in the same areas. Bluefish are known for their oily, flavorful meat, which makes them a great food source for big bass.
  • White Perch: Another popular food for striped bass, white perch are a smaller fish that are found in both freshwater and saltwater environments. They have a sweet, delicate flavor that makes them a good choice for preparing as a meal.
  • Mackerel: These fish are high in fat and are a good source of nutrition for striped bass. They’re also a popular bait fish for anglers who are targeting big bass.

Meat and Greet: What Makes Striped Bass a Great Food?

Striped bass are widely considered to be one of the best-tasting fish in the ocean. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Sweet Flavor: Striped bass have a sweet, delicate flavor that is often compared to pork.
  • Versatile: Striped bass can be prepared in a number of different ways, including grilling, baking, and frying.
  • Nutritious: Striped bass are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, making them a healthy food choice.
  • Local: Depending on where you live, striped bass may be a local food source that is easy to find and prepare.

Hook, Line, and Sinker: How to Pick the Best Type of Striped Bass for Your Meal

If you want to prepare striped bass as a meal, here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for fish:

  • Size: Depending on the recipe you’re using, you may want to look for a specific size of striped bass. Smaller fish are easier to handle and may be better for certain types of dishes.
  • Fat Content: Striped bass that are caught in colder waters tend to have a higher fat content, which can make them more flavorful and moist when cooked.
  • Freshness: Look for fish that is firm to the touch and has bright, clear eyes. If the fish smells fishy or has a slimy texture, it may not be fresh.
  • Type: There are a number of different types of striped bass, including the white bass, hybrid striped bass, and yellow bass. Depending on where you live, different types of bass may be more widely available.

Reeling It In: How to Prepare Striped Bass for Cooking

Once you’ve brought your striped bass home, here are some tips for preparing it for cooking:

  • Gut the fish: Use a sharp knife to cut open the belly of the fish and remove the internal organs.
  • Scale the fish: Use a scaler or the back of a knife to remove the scales from the skin of the fish.
  • Fillet the fish: Use a sharp knife to cut the meat away from the bones of the fish.
  • Store the fish: If you’re not cooking the fish right away, store it in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to use it.


So, that’s all you need to know about striped bass as food. They’re a delicious fish with a sweet briny flavor that’s perfect for a variety of dishes, and you can even use them as bait! 

So, now you know all there is to know about striped bass and you can enjoy them as food. I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide and learned something new today.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.