For an easy, delicious weeknight dinner, look no further than Branzino or Mediterranean Sea Bass – a delicate, sweet, delicious fish which when filleted, is extremely easy to cook.
I am always on the look-out for quick, unusual recipes with electric flavors. My daughter is forever asking for foods that taste ‘different’ which is somewhat of a challenge in a curry based kitchen. You see, one problem with cooking spicy food is that you soon get stuck with the same combination of favorite spices. As a result, every curry based dish whether fish, vegetables, beef or chicken, starts tasting, pretty much the same.
I was first introduced to this recipe while watching Giada on the Food Network. While my husband, who is far more versed in Italian cooking than I, enthusiastically went on to try the recipe, I was extremely skeptical. I could not imagine eating fish with nothing but capers, tomatoes and olives. However, after the first try, I was completely sold. Over time, we adapted the components, to make it our own, but the basic concepts, thanks to Giada, remains the same.
The most important part of the recipe is the quality of the cherry tomatoes. While technically available all year round, cherry tomatoes are inherently tastier in the Spring and Summer when they are in season, so the sauce is distinctly tastier. Given that the recipe is so simple, the quality of the ingredients makes a substantial difference. Branzino is not always available at our local fish shop, so we make a point of looking out for it during the warmer months when we know that the perfect tomatoes are available.
The dish tastes particularly good when complemented with neutral foods like plain white rice or angel hair pasta sauteed with a little garlic. For a lighter/paleo touch, serve with a salad using the sauce as the dressing. Because of the distinct flavors of this dish, it pairs best with non-oaky dry wines like crisp, dry Loire valley Sauvignon blanc, champagne and Portuguese whites.
Crispy Branzino with Caper-Olive Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 branzino fillets, skin on
- 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1/2 cup pitted olives, halved
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt more for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
- Rinse the branzino fillets. Dry them very carefully with paper towels, pressing firmly to remove any moisture. Score the skin side of each filet 2-3 times using thin, diagonal strokes. Sprinkle the skin side of the branzino with salt.
- Heat a large, non-stick skillet on medium heat. Once the oil is hot enough - place the branzino on the skillet, skin side facing down. Sprinkle the side facing up with salt. Allow the fish to cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the skin is crisp and slightly brown. Flip the fish on the other side, laying the fish away from you to avoid oil splatters. Cook for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan.
- Immediately, add the butter, capers, olives, salt and tomatoes to the pan. Add the wine and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and the alcohol has evaporated. The sauce should taste a little salty. Add the fish and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately, pouring the sauce over the fish.
- Mild flavored fish like branzino, pair best with crisp, dry Loire valley Sauvignon blanc, champagne and Portuguese whites.