Branzino, otherwise known as Mediterranean sea bass, is just the right size for grilling whole: not so small that it’s hard to eat, but not so large that it’s impossible to flip over. When flipping over whole fish, use a fish spatula to gently loosen the flesh from the grill if it doesn’t slide freely, then use your other hand to guide the fish as you flip it over.
Because of high demand, just about all of the branzino you find will be farmed — it’s virtually impossible to find it fresh here in the States. But don’t let that put you off trying it; look for Branzino farmed in Nova Scotia, where sound growing practices keep the environment safe.
Branzino has a deliciously rich flavor that is enhanced by a generous glug of extra-virgin olive oil just before serving, and it is packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fish oils. Typical specimens range anywhere between 1 to 1 ½ pounds, and will run for about $7 to $9 a pound.
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1 whole branzino
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon
- 1 ¼ lbs fava beans, shelled
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 t red-wine vinegar
- 2 scallions, green parts only
- Preheat a grill on medium-high heat.
- Pat the fish dry, and brush all over with the vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and place a few lemon slices inside the cavity.
- Grill the fish until grill marks appear, about 10 minutes per side.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, and fill a large bowl with ice water.
- Blanch the fava beans for 30 seconds, then drain and plunge in the ice bath.
- Remove the skins, and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, red-wine vinegar, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and process until smooth.
- Serve the fish with the fava bean purée, and garnish with olive oil.
All text and photos © 2014 Will Budiaman. All rights reserved.