As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed Virginia Spots in Pittsburgh restaurants, usually prepared simply-either panfried, with a light bread crumb coating, or grilled..so that the delicate flavor is not overwhelmed. So, when I saw some at Wholey's, I bought a couple, and squirreled them away in the refrigerator at work, to bring home for supper. You can see them above, their heads discretely tucked back on-in the hopes that someone will identify them for me. Because the evidence seems to indicate that they don't, um, actually exist.
I remembered vaguely having been told that the "Virginia Spots" served at some restaurants were actually black bass, and that this was because the spots were very popular, but only available during a limited season, and resembled black bass in flavor. Googling, I found that pretty much every reference for "Virginia Spots" was to a menu listing in a Pittsburgh area restaurant. There was one reference to an Edna Lewis recipe for panfried Virginia Spots, but it was not in either of my two Edna Lewis cookbooks.
In fact, a search of an exhaustive USDA website listing all North American fish, by scientific and common names revealed no such animal. So- I called Wholey's, and asked to speak to a fish guy. I got a fellow named Jeff Lee, who was very nice, and puzzled. He was sure that there was a very specific fish by this name, that he knew what it looked like, and that it was not identical to any other fish he's seen. Nonetheless his boss, when consulted, said that it was "just another name for the bass." But Mr. Lee thinks Virginia Spots look noticeably different.
I fileted my two little guys and had them simply dipped in cornmeal and panfried- and they were delicious, and not expensive, either. So- who are they? Can you help me out here? I promised Jeff I'd call him back if I found any explanation.
addendum: My brother has found them(!) He googled "spot" in the singular. For some reason this did not occur to me. Duh. Maybe they taste like bass, because they eat 'em? I must say, they really don't taste like the bottom-feeders they apparently are; they have a very delicate, light taste. See the little spots on mine? Clearly the same guys. Most of the references are for fisherpersons. Anyone else have any memories of catching or eating them? Special recipes? There are usually a zillion recipes for anything, but I still don't see any for the spots. Well- there's one, but it doesn't look too great.