Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Whole Branzino with Muddled Vinaigrette

Summer is coming and we'll all be showing off a little more skin. We don't have fashionable oversized sweaters to give the beautiful optical illusion of svelte figures. So what better way to prepare for the warmer months than to eat foods that will help us shed some of the comfort-food pounds we may have gained during winter?!

This dish is perfect. It's light, only has good fat and is super easy to make. I love the sweet taste of the branzino. When a fish is cooked whole, it's even better than a fillet. The bone really flavours it and the skin is like a protective seal that keeps all the juices circulating within! It's delicious as is but what takes it to another level is the delicious muddled herb dressing that is bright and bursting with lemon, garlic, mint, cilantro, parsley and the welcome kick of chili!... literally salivating!

1 whole branzino
a bunch of parsley parsley
2 stems oregano
1 lemon, sliced 
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
4 cloves garlic smashed
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 425 F. Have your fish monger scale and gut the fish. Wash it and pat dry. Slit the fish on a diagonal deep enough so it just hits the bone. You want to do it 2-3 times per side depending on how big the fish it. Rub with one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Insert lemon slices into the slits. Turn over and insert oregano, parsley and lemon slices into the incisions. Stuff the cavity with lemon, the remaining parsley and garlic. Place parchment paper on a baking tray and cook for 20 minutes or until the flesh is opaque and soft. Remove from the oven and spread the herb butter (recipe to follow) and return to the oven. Place broiler on high and cook for 1 minute.

De-bone and serve with vinaigrette and capers.

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup mint
1/2 teaspoon grated or pounded garlic
1 green chili thinly sliced (less or none if you intolerant to heat)
1 lemon juiced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon capers

In a mortar and pestle pound the garlic until it has a paste-like consistency. If you don't have a mortar and pestle use a micro plane, grater or knife. Rinse herbs and pound  with the garlic in the mortar and pestle for about 1 minute. You still want some chunks of herb but the idea is to release it's natural flavours and oils. You want it to look like the mint in your mojito. Again, if you don't have a mortar and pestle use your knife and roughly chop. Add lemon juice, chili, olive oil and salt. It's best to let it sit for 5 minutes or so.

* Tip: you can make it with just one herb or different combinations of herbs so long as it's a cup.

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