Something Fishy

Posted: March 15, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , | 4 Comments »

So hey, I feel like this got passed by during the past few busy crazy weeks of my life, and I need to bring this to light.
Recently, I decided to try cooking an entire fish. Whole.

That’s right. Whole. As in, eyes still in, tail still on, bones and spine and gills and whatnot. Cleaned, gutted and scaled thankfully, but still. A whole entire branzino.
I didn’t go in blind, of course. I did some research before I set out to cook this thing (although after I’d ordered it from Fresh Direct, because hey, I love a challenge AND a bargain!) and I came across a pretty sensible sounding recipe on foodandwine.com – Roasted Branzino with Caper Butter. I love compound butters, and compound butters go great with fish, so this was right up my alley. The preparation is pretty basic, and not at all frightening, so I went into this with a lot less terror than one would expect.
Roasted Branzino with Caper Butter
adapted from Food and Wine

1. Rinse your fish, and preheat the oven to 425. Combine 2 tablespoons of butter, a teaspoon of chopped capers (or y’know, as many as you want because this is for your tastes), and a teaspoon or so (a small squeeze) of lemon juice. Put the compound butter in the fridge.
2. Slice a lemon thinly, and put 3-4 slices into the fish cavity — as many as will fit, basically.  Also put in a sprig or two of rosemary.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a nonstick pan big enough to hold your fish (lop off the tail if, like me, your biggest pan is NOT big enough to hold your whole fish) and when it’s shimmering, place the fish in the pan. Cook for 3 minutes over high heat, then flip and cook for 3 more minutes.
4. Transfer the fish to a baking sheet, and put in the oven for 10 or so minutes. When the fish is just done, remove and cut up. You’ll need to remove the head, and cut two fillets off the backbone. There will be pinbones in your fillets, so take care when eating or remove the bones before you serve.
Dollop on the caper butter, and enjoy.
It takes some bravery and gumption to cook a whole fish, but once you do it, you’ll see it’s not that hard at all. It seemed a lot more sturdy than most fillets that I have worked with, and the crispy skin was definitely a bonus. Plus, how many times can you say that you’ve cooked a real animal, with its head still on?! I think this summer I’m going to try doing this fish on the grill, if I can get a really firm one. It would make an impressive party dish, as long as you don’t intend to serve a big party. And frankly, branzino itself is delicious — very light and flaky, and excellent with caper butter and lemon juice. Some sauteed spinach and a light white wine would probably have made me believe it really was summer….. even though of course it wasn’t.



Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.