This is my favorite fish to use when cooking it whole. It is a meaty and tender mild white fish, almost sweet and so quick to prepare.
Branzino is a fish also known as Mediterranean Sea Bass. Not to be confused with Chilean Sea Bass which is a completely different fish. It makes for an impressive table presentation and is perfect for grilling, poaching, baking or braising.
Whole fish is very popular in Israel, the Middle-East and the Mediterranean. While on holiday in Greece one year I was amazed at how it was on every menu and it's cooked exactly the way I am accustomed to. I guess that would make sense since Greece is practically next door to Israel.
In the USA it is not such a popular way to cook fish. I am not sure whether it is because most people are not used to it or because some find it intimidating to cook the fish whole. It does contain bones which is part of the reason why the fish is so tasty.
We love whole fish in Israel and I cook it once a week. I buy all my fish at my local fish store where I can usually get most kinds or I order it in advance. This is a simple quick recipe and once the fish is seasoned it goes in the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes and it's done!
The skin is fairly thin and it gets nice and crispy which tastes so good with all the seasoning rubbed in. You can use any whole fish you like but I did find that Red Snapper which you see often sold whole in US fish shops is too scaly and I personally avoid it.
We like to eat it around the bones but you can filet it first.
If you love fish, give it a try, you won't be disappointed! So delicious, nutritious and low in fat! Not to mention that you will look like a culinary hero without putting much effort into the recipe!
So here we go!
Ingredients: This is a meal for 2. Increase all ingredients for larger portions
All spices can be adjusted to your taste:
2 whole Branzino (or Mediterranean Sea Bass)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
½-1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Jerusalem mix (optional)
3 cloves garlic sliced in half
parsley for garnish
sliced lemon for garnish
Wash fish inside and out. Pat dry with a paper towel. Lay in a baking pan. Heat oven to 375f.
In a small bowl mix olive oil and spices well. Brush mixed spices well all over your fish on both sides and inside.
Place sliced garlic cloves inside fish. Make 3 slits with a sharp knife on top of the fish.
Add water to the bottom of the pan. Put in oven for 20 minutes uncovered.
Increase oven heat to 425 f. Take out of oven and baste with a spoon all over. Put back in oven and bake until skin looks crispy. In my oven this takes about 10 minutes but keep in mind that ovens vary. If it takes a little longer to crisp the skin leave it in. A little liquid will remain on the bottom of the pan but the top should be dry and crispy.
Take out of oven, lay on a large plate with sliced lemons and parsley sprinkled on top.
Serve with a white rice (traditional) and an Israeli Salad or anything you're in the mood for!