Branzino alla Griglia
Bob's Branzino alla Griglia Recipe
Over the years, branzino has become an enormously popular and trendy fish, featured by celebrity chefs and appearing on menus all over the world. It’s a delicious fish whose popularity was probably boosted by its “fun-to-say” Italian name. I imagine a new star tenor at the Met: Roberto Branzino, or sitting as a high schooler with my Dad and watching the worldwide wrestling champion: The Great Branzino.
The too-popular branzino has been completely fished out of Mediterranean waters. It’s now farmed raised, and, consequently, more affordable. For example, the fish I used most recently for this recipe was farmed in Turkey and sold at my grocery. I know it’s available at Whole Foods. If you can’t find it, any similarly sized, white-fleshed whole fish will work, red snapper, for example. Whichever fish you buy, it will already be cleaned and scaled but not de-boned. If you are uncomfortable with the head still being on the fish, someone at the fish counter can remove it for you.
The Italians and Greeks love to prepare fish this way. If you have a grill and love fish, I urge you to try this recipe. Here’s what you need.
2 whole branzini (sea bass), about 1 lb each
extra-virgin olive oil, to rub on the fish
salt and pepper
¼ c extra-virgin olive oil
¼ c lemon juice, freshly squeezed
herbs: I used about 1 teaspoon each of parsley, oregano and thyme, all fresh and chopped. You can use whatever you like. I had it once with mint, which was excellent. If you have dried herbs, use a generous pinch of each.
Fire up the grill; I used charcoal but gas works, too. Combine the ¼ cup of olive oil, lemon juice, herbs and some salt and pepper, and mix well. Reserve this for serving. Rub olive oil on the fish inside and out, then generously season with salt and pepper, again inside and out. Put the fish on the grill over relatively high heat and cook for 6-7 minutes on each side. Be careful when you turn the fish. When the branzini are done you’ll see the flesh begin to separate from the back fin. Transfer the fish to dinner plates or a platter and drizzle them all over with the reserved olive oil-lemon juice mixture. Note: if you carefully slide a sharp knife along the back bone, the filet should lift off easily. Now you’re ready to eat.