Bass-o-matic Pate


I did not set out to recreate one of Saturday Night Live’s fast-food recipes when my assistant handed me a styrofoam box.

“My husband is still looking around the freezer for that soup you made,” she said. “And then he asks whether you’ve made any more lately.”

If any readers want to try to make a more lactose-friendly version of that stew, I’d love to try that recipe. In the meantime, I’ve got this beheaded frozen fish in my freezer.

When in doubt: marinate! I make a salmon or steelhead trout teriyaki broiled fish dish, adorned with generous grated ginger. I figured I could probably do something similar with this. But the fish was still half-frozen when I made the marinade, and it still had its spine in, so I couldn’t really play with it much. Sigh.

After the marinating, I took it out. It smelled about right, but still wouldn’t unfold. And it was still kinda hard in the body — our refrigerator is a bit of an overachiever. (No, I don’t know how to spine a fish. Yes, I’d appreciate knowing how to do that to a 1/2 frozen fish.)

Aaaaanyway — long story short is that broiled Lake Travis bass is about as bony as a carp, or I got things really wrong. By the time I was finished pulling the !@#*!@(* bones out, all I had were tiny little gobbets of delicious fish. Looked in Joy of Cooking — no bass recipes that stood out. Glanced over at the sink, and my handheld blender was calling out to me… So here goes a wierd dish with a delicious ending!



  • 1C low-salt soy sauce
  • 2t ground allspice
  • 2t ground cloves
  • 1/2t ground (not fresh) ginger

To Cook Fish

  • 1 bass, preferably from Lake Travis (lake near Austin). About 1.5 lb.
  • 1t ground (not fresh) ginger


  • 3T unsalted butter
  • 1/3C olive oil (locally made, Israeli, Greek, or Italian — with sediment on the bottom)
  • Fish, totally deboned
  • 1C white wine
  • 3 shots Drambuie (I prefer all things Scottish)
  • 1t fresh ground pepper + more to taste
  • 1/2t salt


  1. Prepare bass: remove head, tail, fins, gut if really that fresh. Wash inside and outside thoroughly.
  2. Add marinade ingredients to thck quart freezer bag. Shake. Add fish, and squeeze out all possible air. Shake carefully (bones can puncture plastic). Put inside another freezer bag. Put in fridge for at least 12, preferably 24 hours.
  3. After you take it out of the fridge, prepare oven for broiling, and transfer fish to a pan. Broil at 500 degrees farenheit for 12 minutes.
  4. Remove, let cool, then carefully debone, placing meat and about 1/4 of the fish skin (unburned only!) into the fish bowl. (This can be real tedious — if you can start with bass fillets that will save you at least 20 minutes right there.)
  5. Put a sautee pot on the burner (either thick copper bottom or with heat distributor) and add the butter and olive oil. Grind pepper in and heat until the mixture is sizzling.
  6. Add fish and stir, breaking up any large pieces, until the entire mass is sizzling.
  7. Add wine, then still constantly over medium heat until the alcohol has boiled off (smell to check).
  8. Set to simmer, then add the Drambuie. Simmer another five minutes, or until the mixture is thick.
  9. Take your handheld mixer and thoroughly blend the mixture. If you don’t have one, pour into blender or food processor with blades and perform same action.
  10. Add salt, then add fresh ground pepper to taste.
  11. Decant into large soup bowl (should fit)
  12. Refrigerate for at least eight hours (preferably overnight)
  13. Serve with tortilla chips if you’re in Austin, otherwise some frufru cracker.
  14. Play SNL on television in background.

All that for about a pound of food. What we do in the name of our art…


Appetizer for ten.


This thing stretches over days. The nice thing is that you can get it done during the course of a weekend day for an evening party.

Prep time: 35 minutes Elapsed time: Marinating time + 30 minutes