What is branzino in Spanish?

Spanish branzino is a type of mild, white fish that is very popular in Mediterranean cuisine. It is a star dish in Spain and Italy and is also known as European sea bass. What are the benefits of Spanish branzino and how can it be easily prepared?

Characteristics of Spanish branzino

When it comes to exquisite fish, Spanish branzino is a must to try. This is a very mild type of fish, characterised by its white, tender flesh and a very particular flavour. It can be baked in stews, as is usually done in Spain, or simply roasted whole and served with lemon, as is done in Italy.

Spanish branzino falls into the category of white fish, making it ideal for people who want to lose a few extra kilos or for those who simply want to eat healthily and look after themselves. There are two types of Spanish branzino: wild and farmed. The former can be found between the months of May and November and has pink meat and a more intense flavour. This is due to its diet which is based on crustaceans and small fish. On the other hand, farmed Spanish branzino has white meat and a milder flavour, which is why it is the most widely consumed and is a favourite even among children.

Spanish branzino has many names: it is known as cape mouth, sea perch, loup de mer and sea bass. In addition to the Mediterranean Sea, it can be found in the eastern part of the Atlantic, on the coasts of Norway and as far as Senegal. It can also be found in the Black Sea. But keep in mind that this type of fish is wild and its flesh, taste and texture will be much stronger.

What is the best way to prepare Spanish branzino?

Spanish branzino does not have a large size and its bones are not too big. Therefore, it can be prepared and served whole. It is a very versatile fish and it is possible to prepare it in countless recipes and using different methods. Baked, grilled and even steamed – it doesn't need much!

If you are going to bake it, just ask the fishmonger to remove the entrails and stuff the inside with lemons and your favourite fresh herbs. Bake in the oven at 180ºC for 20-25 minutes. To serve? Leave to rest for five minutes and garnish with more lemons and fresh herbs.

For steaming you will need a steamer. Leave the fish to cook for 20 minutes. You only need to add the juice of one lemon and a drizzle of olive oil for seasoning in this case. When the fish is cooked in this way, it can be flaked and included in salads – it will delight everyone!

A Spanish branzino recipe to surprise your guests

Ingredients

  • Two whole Spanish branzinos.
  • Four cloves of garlic.
  • Two dried chillies.
  • 20 millilitres of cider vinegar (white wine can be substituted).
  • Parsley sprigs.
  • Coarse salt.
  • Freshly ground black pepper.
  • Extra virgin olive oil.

Preparation

  • The first thing to do is to clean the fish. You can do this yourself or ask the fishmonger to remove the entrails.
  • Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  • Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Use a kitchen brush or paper towel to do this.
  • Seal the Spanish branzino using a griddle or frying pan. To do this, heat a drizzle of oil and brown the fish, skin side up, for three minutes.
  • Place the Spanish branzino in the dish. This time, the skin should be facing down.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook for eight to ten minutes.
  • While the Spanish branzino is cooking, peel and finely slice the garlic and chop the chilli.
  • Heat some olive oil in the same pan in which you put the fish.
  • Pour in the garlic and, after a few minutes, add the chilli.
  • Cook over a medium-low heat.
  • When they start to brown, remove and add the vinegar.
  • Remove the fish from the oven and pour the juices released by the sea bass after cooking into this mixture.
  • Serve garnished with some chopped parsley.

This recipe for Spanish branzino a la donostiarra can be served with an infinite number of garnishes. The most common way is to serve the fish with baked baked potatoes. To do this, peel the potatoes and cut them into slices of the same thickness; place them in the oven on a baking tray, well distributed and drizzled with a splash of oil; you can also add julienned onion. Please note that the potato will need more time to cook than the Spanish branzino.

Another alternative garnish, although less common for fish, is white rice. Whatever side dish you use for Spanish branzino, don't forget to put bread on the table to soak up those juices – your guests will thank you for it!

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