Whole Branzino with Pine Nuts and Lemon

On top of baked potatoes infused with lemon
Stuffed bronzino
I like the idea of eating fish — sustainable fish; cooking fish is a whole different matter. When I saw the list of mystery ingredients in this week’s IHCC challenge, I knew a fish dish was in order. Then I went to Yotam Ottolenghi for inspiration and found the recipe for whole black bream (or bass) with pine nuts and lemon on his website. Sea breams are not readily available in my area. I substituted with branzino (or bronzino), which has shown up frequently on my dinner table. It’s a European relative of striped bass and is considered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as the most important commercial fish widely cultured in Mediterranean areas.
The approach of stuffing a whole fish with pine nuts, rice and preserved lemon, and marinating it with spices and more lemon intrigues me. Cinnamon, paprika, all spice and cayenne pepper add a warm, welcome, mildly spicy flavor to the fish. More of a chef-like dish. Not something I normally do to fishes but certainly works to wake up my taste buds and, importantly, test out another fish cooking technique.

I don’t have preserved lemon; I wish I do. Bronzino is a delicate fish and the mellow flavor of preserved lemon makes it a perfect complement. I don’t know whether it is worthwhile to pickle some lemons myself or pay the high price to buy the preserved lemons. Any thoughts? In the end, I used slices of fresh lemon instead, given that lemon juice is one of the ingredients and the lemons will be cooked. To satisfy the IHCC three-ingredient challenge, dill is purposed as a garnish and as part of the trio (white fish, dill and pine nuts) of featured mystery items. There you have it…

A light dinner from the sea. The fish dish evokes the sensibility of the sea with the appearance, taste and smell of it. A neat and whole package indeed!

 Reduced cooking time of the fish to a total of 30 minutes
Garnished with dill





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  • Reply
    Joyce Rachel Lee-Bates
    June 14, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Wow, this is an excellent choice!

  • Reply
    Joanne T Ferguson
    June 15, 2015 at 4:14 am

    WOW and what a great dish! It seemed this month's challenge re IHCC was challenging for a lot of us, including me!
    Well done on completing the challenge too! I hope you feel very proud of yourself!

  • Reply
    June 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    This is really an impressive meal! I love how beautiful it looks on plate. I have never cooked a whole fish before, but it is on my list of things to do. When we cooked with Ottolenghi for 6 months some of us made preserved lemons. Some of us really liked them. Personally, I think I prefer the taste of regular lemon.

  • Reply
    Diane Zwang
    June 23, 2015 at 2:05 am

    I love that you picked fish too. Being involved in cooking groups has helped me expand my cooking techniques of fish. I love Yotam Ottolenghi recipes. He brings a depth of flavor with all those spices. Glad you enjoyed your dish it looks delicious. As to preserved lemons I never found them when I need them and always substitute. Some of my blogging friends think preserved lemon is too strong. There are recipes to make your own online. I am not sure where you are located but I here Trader Joe's carries preserved lemons now.

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