Derby Recipes

How to cook up all those freshly caught striped bass and bluefish

It’s year 66 for the annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby and it hasn’t slowed down an iota. This is world class fishing, the most historic, successful and popular saltwater fishing tournament on the East Coast. Approximately 3,000 anglers come to Martha’s Vineyard to renew old friendships and make new memories – and, to fish.

The sense of camaraderie, nostalgia and memory making is very much what the Derby is about. This tournament started a year after World War II, when optimism was running high and tourism was a gleam in the eye. It brought 1,000 fishermen from all over the country and Canada. The first prize was $1000 and a week stay at the Harborside. The second prize? A building lot in Gay Head.

The Derby, now a non-profit, is also about giving back to the community. It gives scholarships to two qualified graduating MVRHS students pursuing their education in the marine sciences and the Fillet Program donates to Island seniors. Although not plots of land, the two grand prizes are big, very big.The grand prizes this year are a new Chevrolet pick-up truck from Clay Family Dealerships and a new boat, trailer and motor from Eastern Boats.

But of course, it goes without saying that one of the most exciting parts of the Derby is all the fish you get to eat. And the recipes you get to exchange. The only fish that doesn’t have a recipe attached below is the False Albacore or “Little Tunny.” As one fisherman said to me, “there’s a saying that goes ‘even the cats don’t like them.’” Here are some tried and true recipes for the rest. Enjoy!

Beer Battered Striped Bass

Serves  4  

2 lb Bass fillet

½ cup flour

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ lemon (juice)

½ cup peanut oil

1 cup beer

Slice fillets into 2” strips. Sprinkle with lemon juice and roll in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

Prepare batter by combining flour and cayenne pepper. Gradually blend in beer until thoroughly mixed.

Heat oil in cast iron skillet (or deep fryer) – dip fillets in batter and fry until golden brown – about two minutes each side. Drain on paper towel. Serve with hot sauce or tartar sauce.    -- Joyce Cornwell

Marinade Striped Bass

2 lbs. Striped Bass

2 10 oz. bottles  soy sauce

½  cup flour

2-3 bunches scallions sliced thin

½ cup vegetable oil

2 tbls. fresh garlic

¼ cup sugar

sesame seeds, toasted

Marinate fillets for an hour. Grill 6 minutes on each side. Stick a sharp knife into fleshiest bit, if white in color it’s done.  --  Sandy Healy, John’s Fish Market, Vineyard Haven

Betty Ann’s Bonito

2  3/4” bonito steaks

3 tbls. dry vermouth

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoons finely chopped scallions, or 1 tbls. each finely  Chopped onion and chives

1 tbls. chopped parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbls. mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Dash each of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces

½ teaspoon sugar

2 tbls. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400*

Place the fish steaks in a small flameproof casserole just big enough to hold them. Pour wine over top, adding a bit more if needed to cover bottom of pan. In a small dish, mix garlic, scallions or onion and chives, and parsley. Sprinkle over tops of steaks.  Salt and pepper if desired.

Place dish in oven and bake 12 minutes to partially cook. While fish bakes, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, two sauces, and sugar together. Remove fish from oven at end of cooking period and spread mixture over top of each steak. Sprinkle half the grated cheese on each steak and place fish about 4” below heated broiler for 3-5 minutes. Check several times to make sure top is not burning.  If it is, lower boiling tray. Remove and serve hot.  –The Martha’s Vineyard Cookbook

Seared Tuna au Poivre

4 Tuna steaks, 6oz. each


¼ cup cracked black peppercorns

1/3 cup port

¼ cup cognac

½ cup reduced brown chicken stock *

2 tbls. butter cut into pieces

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons bottled green peppercorns, drained

*(I use regular chicken stock)

Season the tuna steaks lightly with salt. Pour the peppercorns on a sheet of waxed paper or a large plate and press each piece of tuna into the pepper to coat both sides evenly. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed.

Put the port and cognac in a small skillet or saucepan and boil over medium-high heat until 2 tablespoons remain; 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the stock and continue boiling a few minutes more until the sauce reduces and thickens. Pour the sauce through a strainer into a clean pan, whisk in the butter, and season with a little salt and black pepper. Cover the pan and keep warm.

Select a skillet; sear the tuna until its surface is nicely browned and firm, 35-40 seconds per side. Cut each steak crosswise into ½ inch thick slices. Spoon a little sauce in the center of each of four plates. Arrange the seared tuna slices on top of the sauce and garnish with the green peppercorns. Serve immediately . – Wolfgang Puck

Baked Bluefish

Preheat oven to 375*

2 lbs Bluefish

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup crème fraiche or sour cream

1 lemon (juice)

4 tbls. minced fresh chives (reserve some to sprinkle on top)


parchment paper

Baking sheet

Mix the mayonnaise and crème fraiche together with lemon juice and chives. Spread over thetops of the Bluefish fillets. Place on parchment paper on baking sheet; sprinkle reserved chives and bake for about 20 minutes. Check, sticking fork to make sure it’s white and flaky. This is the ultimate recipe. So easy and delicious.

Jason Peringer September 24, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Okay, I give up, where's the beer in the the "Beer Battered Striped Bass"?


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