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TIP OF THE DAY: Branzino, a.k.a. European Seabass & Loup de Mer

Grilled branzino with heirloom tomatoes and
kumquat compote at Paggi House in Austin,
Texas. Photo courtesy Nations Restaurant
News. Read the full article.

 

According to Datassential MenuTrends, which tracks more than one million different menu items at more than 7,000 chain and independent restaurants, shrimp, tuna and salmon are among the top seafood items on American menus.

  • Shrimp is the most common seafood item, appearing as an appetizer, entrée or side dish on more than two-thirds of all restaurant menus.
  • Tuna appears on 42% of menus.
  • Salmon, sought by the health conscious for its omega-3 essential fatty acids, appears on 40% of all menus.
  •  
    The fastest-growing fish entrée on restaurant menus is not catfish or tilapia, but a lesser-known fish.

    Swimming onto menus nationwide, branzino, a silvery denizen of the Mediterranean Sea and a member of the bass family, currently appears on just 1% of all menus. But it is the fastest-growing fish or seafood, showing up on 28% more menus since 2008—maybe even more if you combine all the different names by which it is known.

     

    Branzino is the Northern Italian name for the fish, which is called Mediterranean seabass in the U.K.; loup de mer in France; branzino, branzini, bronzini, spigola or ragno in different parts of Italy; lubina or róbalo in Spain; levrek in Turkey and lavraki in Greece.

    Branzino/European seabass was one of the first varieties of fish, after salmon, to be farmed commercially in Europe. It was historically cultured in coastal lagoons and tidal reservoirs. Mass-production techniques developed in the late 1960s took production inland.

    Today, branzino is the most important commercial fish widely cultured in the Mediterranean. Greece, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Croatia, and Egypt are major branzino farming countries.*

     

    HOW DOES BRANZINO TASTE?

    Branzino has a very mild flavor, with sweeter flesh than most white fish. It’s very easy to eat whole off the bone, or to fillet at home.

    A popular preparation is to roast branzino whole, stuffed with lemon and herbs. You can roast the whole fish at a high heat, stuffed with fresh lemon and parsley or thyme; then cook it briefly under the broiler to crisp the skin.† Or, try these recipes:

  • Roasted branzino fillets with lemon and fennel, a recipe from Giada di Laurentiis.
  •  

    Branzino fresh from the farm. Photo courtesy Aquanor-USA.com.

  • Whole-roasted branzino with lemon vinaigrette, a recipe with instructions for grilling any whole fish.
  • Grilled and servesd with warm potato, tomato and olive salad, by one of our favorite Greek chefs, Michael Psilakis, owner of Fishtag, Kefi and MP Taverna in New York City (video recipe).
  •  
    You can substitute branzino in any recipe the calls for striped bass or red snapper.

     
    Find more of our favorite fish and seafood recipes.
     
    *Source: Wikipedia.
     
    †Rinse fish, pat dry and place on a lightly oiled baking pan. Brush fish inside and out with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity of each fish with 2-3 lemon slices and a few parsley sprigs. Bake, uncovered, at 400°F for 4 minutes; turn and cook 4 more minutes. Turn on broiler and cook fish 3 to 5 minutes or until skin blisters and fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove fish from oven, and transfer to serving plates.
      





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