Oven-Roasted Branzini with Thyme and Lemon

July 2, 2009

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I‘ve been negligent in posting any recipes this week. Here’s a quick one, inspired by this afternoon’s trip to the fish market.

It’s a simple dish that starts with only a few ingredients: two branzini (plural of branzino, cleaned and scaled by Sal, my fishmonger), a lemon, fresh thyme, olive oil, pepper, and salt (sea salt with zinfandel and oregano, purchased at London’s Borough Market).

Mise en place
I cut the lemon into thin slices, then added salt and pepper to the inside and outside of the fish. That was followed by a splash of olive oil in the cavity before I stuffed it with lemon slices and thyme sprigs:

Stuffed to the gills

I oiled a roasting pan, added the branzini, scored the tops in three spots, then sprinkled more oil over the top:

All oiled up and ready to go

The pan went into a 500°F oven for about fifteen minutes, until the skin was crispy and starting to brown at the edges. I removed the fish from the pan to a cutting board to rest for a few minutes.

Out of the oven

I separated the filets from the bones, plated and served them with saffron rice and sauteed sugar snap peas with garlic. (Look at the fancy garnish: didn’t I learn anything from Fergus?)

Final plate

How did it taste? The fish was moist and firm, with a buttery taste complimented by the delicate perfuming of the thyme and lemon. The crispy skin, still with crunchy sea salt grains, provided a textural balance.

The entire meal, from fishmonger to final plate, took less than an hour to cook. The prep was dead simple, and there was minimal knife work involved. Branzino isn’t cheap, but I’ll remember this technique the next time I need to whip up a last-minute dinner.

Sources:

Branzini from New Deal Fish Market

Olive oil from Capone Foods

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