STORIES THE VIEW UPSTREAM By: Keith 'Catfish' Sutton, WorldFishingNetwork.com Best Way to Eat Bream Some might say the best way to enjoy a mess of bream is to dredge in cornmeal and drown in hot peanut oil until golden brown, but there's an important step before the cooking begins When ranking nature's fresh-food offerings, a plateful of fried bream would be near the top on many anglers' lists. (Keith Sutton photo) My wife and sons, like many people I know, prefer all their fish filleted, even bream. No bones, please. Some of us, however, consider ourselves bream connoisseurs, and to the man, we insist that bream be pan-dressed, never filleted, to facilitate the most thorough enjoyment of these scrumptious wild treats. This is done quite simply. Remove all the scales with a spoon, cut off the head, remove the entrails and, voila, you’re finished. Leave the fins, tail and skin on. They enhance the unsurpassed flavor of these popular panfish. It should be noted, as well, that other methods of preparation can be used, some of which are presented here, but the “dredge in seasoned cornmeal and fry” treatment is preferred to all others because it allows you to pick apart your fish in a manner to relish each and every delectable tidbit of flaky white meat. Proceed thusly with the eating: First, pick up the cooked fish (it’s OK to use your hands) and eat the tail. If the fish has been properly fried, this morsel will be crunchy and slightly salty, the pièce de résistance. Proper etiquette demands that you nibble your way slowly from the outer edge to the point where the tail joins the body. You should next grasp the fish’s dorsal fin (the one on top) between your thumb and forefinger, and strip it backward, pulling it and the bones beneath it out of the fish. Munch the crunchy ends if you like, then discard on your bone plate. (Bream should always be served with a side plate on which the inedible remains can be placed.) Do likewise with the remaining fins. Now, insert the tip of a fork in the back of the fish, where the dorsal fin was pulled away, and twist slightly to separate one of the fillets from the bones beneath it. Grasp the fillet with your fingertips and gently pull it away in one piece. Near the belly portion, toward the front, you will notice a few small bones—the ribs. Pull these from the flesh, and discard. If you have proceeded properly, you now have in your hand a boneless piece of bream, golden-brown and crispy on one side, and snowy-white with a filigree of tiny black veins on the other. This you may eat. To complete your pleasurable task, hold the remaining piece of fish, fried-side down, and insert your fork beneath the bones, lifting slightly to pull them away. The bones and cooked fish should separate easily, and by tugging a little, you will soon have the fish’s skeleton in your hands. Discard to the bone plate. Remove any rib bones that remain, and you will have, once again, a boneless fried fillet that is as sweet and delicious as any piece of meat God put on this earth. Eat. Enjoy. Proceed to fish number two, number three, number four and so on, until the fish are gone or your belly is too distended for comfort. This method of preparation and eating works splendidly on all the members of the sunfish family: bluegills, shellcrackers, warmouths, rock bass, longears, green sunfish, spotted sunfish and more. And you may substitute or mix any of these fish when using the recipes that follow. Remember, however, that for the best flavor, all bream should be kept alive or on ice before being dressed. And as always, the shorter the time from hook to cook, the better they’ll taste. Click here for the best bream recipes.