Grilled Branzino


Last week I stopped by my local fish monger at Seafood on West Main to check for a special catch.  He happened to have branzino, an Italian sea bass which I happen to adore.  It’s a small fish, so it’s typically served whole on the skeleton, and the fish monger left the heads on, which is an indicator of freshness, but it can definitely intimidate some people.  He assured me though, that cooking the fish whole keeps it incredibly moist and imparts the best flavor.

Because it’s skin is fairly hardy and not too delicate, branzino stands up well to grilling, so this post is about grilling whole branzino directly on the flame (no foil wrapping for this fish!).  My preparations simply included washing and drying the fish, seasoning the insides and outsides with salt, pepper, and olive oil (so that it doesn’t stick to the grill), and stuffing the cavities with flavorful veggies and herbs.

I filled my trout with sliced shallots, chopped rosemary, garlic, and lemon slices.  When cooking fish in foil, the process of wrapping it tends to hold the stuffing inside, but because I needed to cook and turn this fish on the grill, I decided to truss it up so that none of the delicious filling could escape.

I quickly ran kitchen twine in water so that  it wouldn’t burn upon the grill and then wrapped strands around the trussed fish, trying to shove all the lemon slices and shallots inside.  Then the fish goes on a well oiled grill over a medium or low heat for about 6-10 minutes per side.  I waited until the skins became golden and crisp and the flesh felt firm.

Here’s one fish in the process of being enjoyed.  I couldn’t help tasting it before grabbing my camera to snap a picture.

The bones were a little tricky to navigate around while eating because they were so small, so my family and I ended up digging in with our fingers.  I believe they’re well-equipped, highly under-utilized, natural tools for eating, and we should use them more!


Here’s a picture of my friend playing with the skeleton after she slid it out of the meat.  Doesn’t it look fun?






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