This freshwater version of the tuna melt works well with any fish with an assertive flavor like white bass (my preference), striped bass, black bass, freshwater drum, or even catfish. Slowly cooking the fillets with olive oil then mashing and whipping them creates a fluffy, emulsified texture that’s perfect for incorporating into a salad garnished with crunchy celery, onion, and pickles. You could also try this with smoked fish fillets that have been shredded.
- 1 lb. white bass fillets or other firm, white-flesh fish
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 ribs celery, finely diced
- ½ cup red onion, finely diced
- ¼ cup chopped dill pickles
- ¼ cup chopped pickled peppers
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- Black pepper
- 4 rolls, split, or 8 slices of bread
- Softened butter for the bread
- 8 slices cheddar, American, or pepperjack cheese
- Shredded lettuce
- Ripe tomatoes, sliced thinly
Also works with
- Layer the fillets, salt, and bay leaves in a cold pan and add the olive oil. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, breaking up the fillets. Once the fish is cooked through, discard the bay leaves, transfer to a bowl and stir well, whipping the olive oil into the fish. Check the seasoning and refrigerate.
- Once the fish has cooled, add the celery, onion, pickles, pickled peppers, mayonnaise, garlic powder, lemon, and black pepper, mixing very well.
- Preheat the broiler to high. Toast the bread with the softened butter.
- Divide the bass salad between the four bottom buns then top with cheese. Broil the bottom buns until the cheese is well melted.
- Top each sandwich with lettuce and tomato, seasoning the tomato with salt and pepper, followed by the top bun. Serve immediately with potato chips.