Branzino is a fish no one in my house had heard of until it appeared in a special summer issue of Gourmet magazine. Their photo of whole fish tied with string and cooked on the barbecue was inspiring to my husband. He grew up eating the fish they caught and he was intrigued by branzino.
We learned that branzino is the northern Italian name for European sea bass, it also goes by the name loup de mer…I’m pretty sure I have ordered that fish off a menu somewhere, probably the south of France and maybe the Caribbean too. The array of fish and seafood available is astonishing, even where I live…more than a thousand miles from the ocean. Fabulous food photos often inspire me to try something different as well as travel stories and hearing about the food from other cultures.
Right now I am in Australia on vacation and although branzino is not from this part of the world we have seen and tasted an array of fish and seafood. At the Sydney Fish Market, the second largest fish market in the world, my husband and I attended a hands-on cooking class. At the Sydney Seafood School we filleted plate size snapper, cut up whole squid, tore apart small blue crabs and prepared fresh mussels. Then we cooked it all up and had a spectacular dinner. It was a delicious culinary introduction for our vacation down under.
While here we have enjoyed wild barramundi, tuna, coral trout, prawns, squid, crab, clams, mussels and salmon. My husband was able to use the skills from our cooking class to filet a five-kilo coral trout caught on his fishing boat on the Great Barrier Reef. Within hours of being caught we pan-fried it in butter and served it with lemon. Fresh and fabulous! Our vacation has provided us with many memories that will inspire future meals remembering our time in Australia.
Back to the branzino…we inquired at our local fish shop, Boyds Lobster Shop and the branzino could be ordered in just two days. We planned our menu and enjoyed a spectacular summer dinner outdoors with friends all around this simple recipe for grilled fish.
If you have never been inspired to cook whole fish on the barbecue I hope you will give it a try. It may look like a bit of a challenge, something you haven’t done before…but it is simple. There will be no judge looking at how nicely your string was tied (unless you invite one). Consider enlisting the help of your guests, then there will be no pressure to figure out the string tying in advance and you can all learn to do it together.
Whether you order fish from far away, buy something local or catch your own you can’t go wrong with this recipe for branzino with lemon and oregano. I’d love to hear about your fish cooking adventure in the comments below.
|4 – 1 lb cleaned whole branzino|
|vegetable oil for brushing fish|
|1½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice|
|¼ tsp salt|
|¼ tsp pepper|
|½ cup olive oil|
|1 Tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)|
|8 lemon slices|
|8 oregano sprigs|
|4 cloves garlic|
|2 Tbsp red wine vinegar|
|¾ cup olive oil|
|salt & pepper|
|2 red onions|
|2 red peppers|
|2 zucchini quartered lengthwise|
|2 yellow squash quartered lengthwise|
|1 Japanese eggplant cut lengthwise|
|4 Roma tomatoes|
|¼ cup chopped fresh parsley|
|¼ cup chopped fresh basil|
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