This past Christmas Eve, one of the dishes prepared by Joe (and quite possibly my favorite dish of the evening) was the grilled whole herb stuffed branzino. It was one of those dishes that I just couldn’t stop craving. The branzino, sometimes called a European or Mediterranean sea bass, is a small white-fleshed fish with a delicate flavor.
Joe stuffed the fish with lemon slices, rosemary, thyme, parsley, wrapped them with twine and cooked on the grill. The herbs and lemon added a lovely flavor to the fish and we could taste the smokiness from the grill.
By New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t stand dreaming about it any more, so when I saw fresh whole branzino at Dorothy Lane Market, it was a must have for the holiday eve menu. The butcher raised an eyebrow when I asked for one. I suspect he was waiting for me to ask him to gut and bone it. But thinking of my new bad ass boning knife at home, I had him wrap the fish in tact.
Admittedly, I have never boned or gutted a fish before. But thanks to You Tube, problem solved. I used the instruction in the gutting link up to the point of skinning, then followed the steps in the boning link. Man, after that I felt like a rock star! Next, the fish was seasoned with salt and pepper, and stuffed with lemon, and fresh herbs from my garden (still alive thanks to the thus far mild winter).
Too lazy to get the gas grill out, I opted to cook the fish using a grill pan. After tying the fish up with kitchen twine, the skin was oiled and the branzino placed on the hot pan. It took about six minutes on each side to cook the fish through, get those lovely grill lines, and the smokey flavor, and just about the same amount of time to devour it.