This simple yet versatile, flaky and moist, flavorful and delicious fish should be cooked whole. The bones in the fish protect against extreme heat, and hence, drying out and add flavor and moisture. It honestly can not get any easier to prepare roasted branzino (branzini for plural).
When buying whole fresh fish, it should smell like the seawater ( you do not want anything "fishy", trust me. The eyes should be clear, not foggy. The flesh should be firm, not spongy or slimy. Ask the fishmonger to descale the fish, trim the fins and remove and clean the insides but leave the head and tail on. And there you have it- a beautiful fresh fish ready to go home with you!
Since branzino has a relatively low fat content, it is best served baked, steamed or sauteed as the delicate flesh can dry out easily. You can use a cooking sheet covered with silicone cooking mat to cut down on cleaning. If you want a truly crispy skin on both sides, you can use a roasting rack or broiling both sides of the fish. I like serving it with my greek mashed potatoes (skordalia) and a mixed salad with raw goat cheese. Complete and delicious dinner in under 30 minutes with no mess and no fuss!
- 2 lbs branzini whole, with head and tail intact
- 2 TBS ghee
- 1 tsp rosemary dry
- 2 tsp oregano dry
- 1 lemon half juiced and half thinly sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic diced
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place parchment paper or silicone mat onto a sheet pan or baking dish large enough to fit the two fish.
Rinse the fish, pat dry and place on a sheet pan.
In a bowl mix ghee, rosemary, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Slather this mixture over the top and inside the cavity of the fish.
Place lemon slices into the cavity of the fish.
Before roasting the fish, make 3-4 slits on the skin of the fish. This allows the seasoning spread through the flesh and the skin to crisp. Be careful to not cut deep into the flesh.
Place the sheet pan with the fish into the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until the fish flesh is white and flaky.
Turn oven to broil and cook fish for 2-3 minutes until skin blisters. Be careful to not completely burn the skin.
Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving plate and serve with lemon wedges.