European sea bass, also known as Branzino, is by far my favorite fish to bake or grill in the summer. It is so incredibly easy, and you won’t be intimidated to cook a whole fish with this easy method. Here I simply season the fish inside and out with salt, pepper, olive oil, fresh lemon, and herbs and bake it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. That’s it! You can also use this simple method for cooking all kinds of mild white fish.
Branzino is a very light, mild white fish. It’s not overly fishy (less fishy-tasting than salmon, mahi mahi, and tuna) and, when cooked properly, it falls right off the bone, in lovely tender bites. The skin is completely edible, but do be careful of bones. To finish it off before serving, we drizzle on a bit of extra olive oil or butter and lemon juice. It doesn’t take many ingredients to make this fish really special. Here’s a helpful visual guide for deboning a Branzino: https://pamelasalzman.com/whole-roasted-branzino/
Branzino reminds me of growing up near the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. My dad and I would often go to the sea and order grilled, freshly-caught fish. There’s nothing more nostalgic to me than cooking this fish at home and trying to recreate a bit of these childhood memories. I actually loved picking out the fish bones as a kid, because it gave me a sense of satisfaction to work for my delicious meal.
European Sea Bass
- 1 whole Branzino, also known as European Sea Bass (mine was 1 pound / 0.406kg)
- salt and pepper to taste
- drizzle of olive oil
- 3 thinly sliced lemon slices
- fresh lemon thyme or parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400F. You can also cook this on a BBQ.
- Season the fish all over with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Also season the inside of the fish with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Stuff the fish with fresh lemon slices and lemon thyme or parsley.
- Place the fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the skin is crisped and browned in spots and the flesh is opaque and flakes off easily with a fork. (Mine took 30 minutes to cook.)
- Let the fish rest out of the oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lemons and herbs from the crevice and gently open up your fish. Discard the fish bones.
- Garnish with parsley, lemons, and drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!