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Whole Branzino Roasted in Salt

Whole Branzino Roasted in Salt

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  • 1 3-pound box coarse kosher salt
  • 5 (or more) large egg whites
  • 2 1-to 1 1/2-pound whole branzino, loup de mer, or sea bass*, gutted

Salsa Verde

  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup finely diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons drained small capers
  • 2 tablespoons sliced pitted brine-cured green olives (such as picholine)

Recipe Preparation


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Stir salt and 5 egg whites in large bowl, adding more egg whites as needed to form grainy paste. Press 1/4-inch layer of salt mixture (large enough to hold both fish) onto large rimmed baking sheet. Stuff cavity of each whole fish with half of herb sprigs and lemon slices. Place fish atop salt mixture on baking sheet. Pack remaining salt mixture over fish to enclose completely. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of fish registers 135°F, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

Salsa Verde

  • Using small sharp knife, remove peel and white pith from lemon. Working over bowl, cut between membranes to release segments. Cut each segment into 3 pieces. Add lemon pieces and next 6 ingredients to bowl.

  • Using back of large spoon, gently crack open salt crust on fish. Lift and discard salt layer. Pull skin from top of 1 fish. Carefully lift top fillet from bones and transfer to plate. Lift and discard bones. Gently lift second fillet from skin and transfer to second plate. Repeat with second fish for a total of 4 plates.

  • Spoon salsa verde over fish, leaving juices in bowl. Add arugula to bowl; toss to coat. Divide among plates.

Recipe by Bruce Aidells, Nancy Oakes,Photos by Pornchai MittongtareReviews Section

Whole Branzino Roasted in Salt - Recipes

For the fish and marinade:
2 whole Branzino, about 1 ½ pounds each, gills removed, patted dry
The zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped parsley
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the glaze:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey

For the vegetables:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 yellow pepper, sliced thin
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 fennel bulbs, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons butter

Marinate the fish: Score both sides of each fish close to the bone but not going through. Transfer the fish to a shallow baking pan lined with aluminum foil.

In a bowl combine the lemon zest, thyme, parsley, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, paprika and olive oil. Rub the marinade onto the fish, getting it down into all the cuts you made. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Bake the fish for 20 to 25 minutes or until it is just cooked through.

Make the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and honey and boil until it is reduced by about half and syrupy.

Cook the vegetables: In large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally until softened. Add the garlic, peppers, tomatoes, fennel, white wine, butter and remaining tablespoon olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break up, the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced.

To Serve: Spoon the vegetables onto plates, remove the fish from the bone and place it on top of the vegetables and drizzle the fish with the glaze.


  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb very small red potatoes, halved
  • 4 whole branzino (about 1 ¼ lb each), cleaned
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 2 tsp
  • Chopped leaves
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 medium sweet onions, peeled and halved, crosswise
  • 4 small plum tomatoes, cored and halved
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Whole Branzino Roasted in Salt - Recipes

Also known as European Sea Bass, branzino is a very popular Mediterranean fish with a mild taste that makes it the perfect canvas for your favorite flavors. Thanks to its use of your June and June Food Thermometer, this recipe is the perfect way to start cooking restaurant-worthy whole fish, even on weeknights! Go ahead and experiment with different flavor combinations for different effects--while we stuff the fish with lemon and thyme here, you can swap in other aromatic herbs and citrus, or rub your favorite spices inside and outside the fish for different takes.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

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Sign up for full access to June's entire recipe library. Your first three months are complimentary, and you can cancel at any time. After your trial, a monthly subscription is $4.99 or an annual subscription is $49. Download the app and start cooking today!


Season and stuff the fish

Place the branzino on a nonstick cooking spray-coated June Pan. With your fingers, gently open the body cavity of the branzino and season the interior all over with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stuff the cavity with lemon slices and thyme sprigs, fanning the lemon slices out to span the whole cavity. Gently press the fish closed.

Season the outside of the fish

Using your fingers or a brush, rub the oil all over the outside of the fish and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.

Choosing Fresh Fish

When purchasing and preparing roasted branzino or any whole fish there are a few important things to remember:

  • When choosing fresh fish, it should smell like the seawater, anything “fishier” smelling and you do not want it. Trust me.
  • The eyes should be clear, never foggy or falling our of the socket, yuck.
  • The flesh should be firm not slimy or super spongy.
  • Ask the fish monger to leave the head and tail on, clean the scales, trim the fins and completely clean the inside.
  • Before roasting the fish, slice into the skin a bit, careful not to go too deep into the flesh. This will help the skin crisp up and it will allow for some seasoning to permeate the inside.
  • Keep it simple! The best fish tastes pretty great on its own and just needs to be enhanced with simple and classic flavors. Sometimes salt, pepper and lemon is all you will ever need.
  • Do NOT over cook the fish. I typically broil these fish (about 1.5 pounds each) for 18 minutes and the bones pull away super easily from it and the flesh flakes just so perfectly. When fish is cooked perfectly the bones peel away from it and there are minimal bones left behind in the flesh.

I made roasted branzino just last night and was compelled to finally share it. I paired it with a super simple sautéed garlic and lemon spinach adorned with a few sprinkles of feta cheese…how Greek am I now huh Chrissy?

It honestly could not have been easier to prepare this roasted branzino. It was all done on a sheet pan covered in parchment paper so the mess was practically non existent. I quickly sliced the fish with little slits on the outside, drizzled both the sides and the inside with super fruity extra virgin olive oil*, stuffed the cavity with some oregano stems from my garden, a few cloves of minced garlic, plenty of salt and pepper and some lemon slices. That’s it! Into the oven it went to broil for 18 minutes. In the meantime I sautéed some garlic with lemon juice and olive oil and tossed in some baby spinach until it wilted. Roasted branzino dinner was complete and utterly delicious in under 20 minutes.

So my darling friend, Chrissy, thank you for reminding me of this wonderfully delicious fish, introducing me to an incredible hole in the wall and most importantly importantly being a dear friend.

Related Video

Easy and delicious. I will make it again.

It was easy and delicious. After the first 5 mins at 400 degrees, I couldn't turn over the fish because the tails were stuck to the pan, so I just left them and cooked another 5 mins on the same side. Then broiled on high for a few minutes, then on low a few minutes. The skin was turning just a little golden and then I took it out. Let it cool about 10 mins--it probably cooked a little more on the pan outside the oven. It was cooked perfectly, sweet and flaky.

A new store opened yesterday called "Seafood City". There I found two beautiful branzino, which I bought to cook tonight. To do so, I looked up and got this recipe and I wanted to check to see if it fit into my Mediteranean Diet (which I was sure it would.) To check the nutrition information, I opened up the section toward the bottom of the page and fell out of my chair. Only 1,249 calories per serving! I did a double take then looked up my calorie guide for branzino. Apparently, raw branzino is 220 calories for 8 ounces - which means this couldn't be 1,249 calories. Needless to say I'm cooking it tonight, under the impression that a poblano pepper, 6 cloves of garlic and 2 lemons are not going to increase that 220 value a whole lot.

This preparation was exactly as promised. The fish was incredibly flakey. We love it. I served it with a chopped caper and butter spread. DELICIOUS!!

Simple, healthy and tasty technique. Since the cooking is quick, next time I’ll use dried oregano (instead of fresh) and use a rasper to make a garlic paste. Still, this was delicious!

Very tasty recipe. I forgot to water my thyme so used herbes de provence from my pantry.

I agree..great recipe, a keeper. I prepped the fish exactly as recipe calls for. Then baked at 400 degrees for 5 minutes on each side, at the center of oven. Then moved it to the top rack to broil. My oven has 2 broiler settings so I first did 5 minutes on low broil. The skin hadn't blistered so did 1.5 more minutes on high broil. Any longer and the fish would have been dry. Flavors and texture were wonderful, but next time I'll try just broiling on high for 5 minutes.

This is a fabulous recipe. I bought a Branzino at 6:00 pm at my local store, and I cooked it and had it for dinner by 7:00pm. It was easy, and delicious and it worked. I must admit that instead of baking it for 5 minutes, I did 6 minutes, because I have an "iffy" oven and I did want it to be cooked. The olive oil mixed with the fish oils and the lemon gave it a smoothly wonderful flavor. I could have fussed more, but I didn't. I shall make this again, and again.

Whole Roasted Branzino With Fennel

Let’s all gather ’round the whole roasted branzino! Holiday season should be about being together and enjoying spectacular food, not worrying about who can’t/won’t eat what. New York Times best-selling cookbook author Danielle Walker brings her signature style of everyone-friendly cuisine to the feast season with Against All Grain Celebrations.

Italian Christmas celebrations, or at least the Italian-American Christmas Eve I grew up with, always includes a fish entrée in addition to the beef or poultry. My grandmother makes salmon because it is her favorite, but I love to prepare a whole Mediterranean fish, like branzino. Its mild flavor and simple preparation even appeals to those who do not love fish. If you are serving only this dish as the main course, you may want to double the recipe.

Tidbits: Branzino has delicately flavored white flesh. Striped bass or red snapper would also be great prepared this way.

Whole Lotta Love

"We say that all of our fish speak Italian," says Paul Bartolotta.

Ironic considering that his restaurant, Bartolotta, Ristorante di Mare, is located in the Las Vegas desert.

That hasn't stopped the chef from flying in an impressive array of seafood: Bartolotta sources upward of 40 species daily from the coasts of Venice, Puglia, Liguria and Sicily, thanks to a deep network of Italian fishermen.

"But the restaurant doesn't do coastal food from Liguria or Veneto it does coastal food from all over Italy," he says. "It's not fancy or fussy food, not cucina creativa, but actually very traditional, textbook food."

Well, not quite. Take his twist on salt-crusted branzino: Before packing the salt around the whole fish, Bartolotta perfumes it with citrus, anise seeds and star anise.

"It just screams of Italy," he says.

The finishing touch is a spoonful of orange and lemon vinaigrette infused with fresh basil and mint (see the recipe).

"It's a super simple dish," he says. "If you cook it slowly, it becomes so moist, and then you put on this light citrus sauce. You can eat it every single day of the year and be happy."

Roasted Branzino With Tomatoes and Olives

When buying fish for this recipe, look for two fish that are as similar in weight as possible to keep the cooking times consistent. Ask your fishmonger to gut and scale the fish but leave the head and tail on for a dramatic presentation.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pat the fish dry on both sides with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper inside and out. Stuff each fish with half the basil leaves and half the lemon slices.

Place a large skillet wide enough to fit both fish side by side over medium heat. Pour in ¼ cup olive oil, then carefully lay both fish in the oil. Cook, undisturbed, until the skin is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a long, thin spatula, carefully flip each fish to the other side and cook until browned and crisp on the opposite side, 3 minutes more. Using the spatula, transfer the fish to a rimmed baking sheet.

Pour the remaining ¾ cup olive oil in the skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and chile flakes and cook, stirring, until the peppers soften slightly, about 3 minutes more. Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the mixture has reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, olives and capers, reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce, stirring often, until the tomatoes have softened, about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat, then carefully return the fish to the skillet, spooning some of the sauce over each fish. Cover with a lid or a sheet of foil and bake for 8 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the fish is fully cooked through and the sauce is reduced and thick, 5 minutes more. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, drizzle with more olive oil and garnish with parsley before serving.

Whole Roasted Branzino with Castelvetrano Olive Relish

Cooking a whole fish looks hard. It’s not. The key is preheating the sheet pan and roasting it fast and hot.

2 whole branzinos, gutted, scaled, and fins removed

1 bulb fennel, sliced into ¼-inch wedges

2 leeks, cleaned and cut into ½-inch rounds

2 lemons, sliced into thin rounds

extra lemon wedges, for serving

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

½ cup roughly chopped Castelvetrano olives

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 475°F and set a rack on the top (beneath the broiler) and another on the bottom. Once hot, add a half sheet pan to the oven to preheat.

2. Rub the branzinos with olive oil all over and season generously on the skin and in the cavity. Toss the fennel, leeks, and lemons with a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt.

3. Carefully remove the preheated sheet pan from the oven and place both branzinos diagonally in the center of the sheet pan (they will sizzle), then scatter the fennel mixture around the fish and place the sheet pan on the bottom rack. Cook for about 15 minutes.

4. While that cooks, combine the relish ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

5. After the first 15 minutes, turn the oven to broil and put the fish on the top rack under the broiler. Watch closely and rotate as needed to make sure everything is getting nicely browned. The fish skin should be getting very crispy and some of the outer edges of the leeks, fennel, and lemons should get a little char. This should take about 5 minutes.

Watch the video: Gordon Ramsay Cooks Mediterranean Sea Bass in Under 10 Minutes. Ramsay in 10 (August 2022).