Freshwater Smallmouth Bass Veronique Recipe

Here is a great recipe inspired by the chef who got me started, Joseph Insalago. I met Joseph at a restaurant in Marina del Rey, California in 1975. Joseph would buy fresh Pacific Red Snapper from local merchants and work magic with it.

Bass Veronique

If you are just a little adventurous and want to try a dish that is truly to die for, this one will do the trick. Every time I make it, I raise a toast to Joseph. Although I've tried other types of fish, small mouth bass seems to have the character to stand up to this dish. The bass is shown served with Shitake Wild Rice.


  • 2 small mouth bass fillets (from a 12"-14" fish)
  • Approx 2-3 oz of 50/50 mixture of vermouth and brandy
  • Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 20-30 red grapes (seedless)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • Flour
  • Bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons of clarified butter


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Dip fillets in beaten egg and then coat lightly with mixture of flour and bread crumbs.  A 60-40 mixture of flour to bread crumbsworks well. 

Marinating the bass in egg wash

Pre-heat a heavy aluminum pan on high setting. A good test of when the pan is the right temp is to drip a small drop or two of water into the pan -- the drops should dance around but not immediately evaporate. 

When the pan is hot, add the clarified butter  (You can also add a bit of olive oil to the butter at this point.  It helps keep the butter from burning.)  Now add the fillets rib side down first.  They will brown quickly.  Turn them over and immediately add the brandy/vermouth mixture.  Ignite this and prepare yourself -- and your smoke detector --  for a large flame.

Igniting the brandy/vermouth

Note -- If you are not quite ready for the flame part of this, you can skip igniting the alcohol, as it will evaporate eventually.   It's the flavors left behind that make the dish.

Ready to serve

As the flame dies, squeeze the fresh lemon over the mixture, add the grapes and place the pan in the hot oven for about 5-8 minutes.  The grapes will turn light pink in color and be firm but no longer crisp. 

Serve with the pan drippings, and grapes.  Try some fresh asparagus and wild rice as accompaniments.  Have a glass of Chardonnay and, as Julia says: "Bon Appetite!"

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