When I was at the fish market the other day, they had whole branzino fish for the first time this season. Branzini (plural of branzino) are a European fish that are farmed commercially. As with all seafood, you want to make sure that they are from a reputable vendor who buys their fish from a company which follows good farming practices. You also want to know that they follow safe standards in transporting the fish to your local market under constant refrigeration.
You will find branzini frequently on the menu in Italy, Greece and Spain. Branzini have a delicate white flesh and are terrific on the grill stuffed with parsley, lemons, peppers, garlic and a little onion.
Have the fish monger clean and gut the branzino for you
Pick fish that appear fresh and not slimy. The eyes should be bright and clear and there should be no fishy odor. Ask the fish monger to clean and gut the fish for you, unless you want the full experience yourself. For a more festive presentation, leave the heads and tails intact. If it bothers you to have the head and tail on, you can ask to have them removed at the market. They will weigh the whole fish before the head and tail are removed, so you will still pay for the entire fish even if you don’t use all of it.
Stuff the fish with vegetables and wrap in foil to grill
Rinse the fish and pat them gently dry with a paper towel. Next, fill the body cavity with the vegetables, lemon slices and herbs. Lightly spray with a little olive oil and wrap each fish in its own foil pouch.
Grill outside for a few minutes to cook the fish
Preheat the grill, place the foil wrapped fish on the hot grill, and close the lid. Time to enjoy some relaxing conversation with your friends or family while the fish cooks. Be careful to not overcook the fish as it can dry out.
I’ve also made this recipe in my oven if the weather is not good for grilling, or if you just ran out of propane. Preheat the oven the 400 degrees F. Cook the foil pouches on a baking tray until the fish is done.
When the branzino is cooked, serve with a whole grain and a vegetable…
When the fish is done (meat is flaky and opaque, temperature is 145 degrees F), pair the delicate fillets with a whole grain starch such as whole wheat pearled couscous, brown rice or quinoa. Serve with a side of steamed asparagus, green beans or other vegetables.
Dinner is served — what could be easier?