Intermediate
Roasted Branzino with Lemon and Calabrian Chili Crisp

How to Prepare Roasted Sea Bass

Step 1: Prepare the oven: Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil and arrange half the lemon slices in a row down the length of the fish. Pat the fish dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Place a rack 6 inches from the top rack and a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F/232°C.

A whole raw sea bass placed on top of lemon slices on a foil-lined baking sheet.A whole raw sea bass placed on top of lemon slices on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Step 1: Prepare the fish: Using a sharp knife, score the skin 3-4 times, being careful not to cut completely through. Season the sea bass generously with salt and black pepper, including the inside of the fish. Fill the cavity of the fish with the remaining lemon slices and fresh herbs and place the lemons on top.

A jar of frothy, brown butter next to a bowl of Calabrian chili paste.A jar of frothy, brown butter next to a bowl of Calabrian chili paste.

Step 2Starting the brown butter: In a small saucepan, melt the butter until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the hazelnuts and garlic and cook for 1 – 2 minutes until toasted and bubbly.

A jar of frothy brown butter placed on a work surface.A jar of frothy brown butter placed on a work surface.

Step 3: Finish the chili crisp: Remove the pan from the heat, add the chili paste, brown sugar and zest of 1 lemon. Season with salt and set aside.

A bowl of Calabrian fiery red chili pepper paste mixed with butter and hazelnuts.A bowl of Calabrian fiery red chili pepper paste mixed with butter and hazelnuts.

Step 4: Great: Cool for 5 minutes until warm but not hot.

Whole sea bass rubbed with crunchy Calabrian chilli on a foil-lined baking tray.Whole sea bass rubbed with crunchy Calabrian chilli on a foil-lined baking tray.

Step 5: Cook: Brush half the mixture on all sides of the fish and cook in the preheated oven for 8 – 12 minutes until just cooked through.

Roasted sea bass rubbed with crunchy Calabrian chili pepper and stuffed with lemons, placed on a foil-lined baking tray.Roasted sea bass rubbed with crunchy Calabrian chili pepper and stuffed with lemons, placed on a foil-lined baking tray.

Step 6: Grill: Turn on the grill, move the pan to the top rack, then cook for 2-3 minutes until the skin is nice and golden.

Step 7: Serve: Cool for a few minutes before serving. I find the easiest way to serve fish is to carefully transfer it to a serving platter with foil, then tear the foil. Then I gently turn the fish so that the cavity is open. You can also try transferring it with a large spatula – whatever is easier!

You can serve it as is, or carefully lift and remove the spine, starting at the end of the tail and removing it along with the head (see photo below for example). Squeeze the juice from a few roasted lemons over the top, drizzle the remaining sauce all over the fish, and enjoy!

A plate of whole sea bass, bone removed, seasoned with Calabrian chilli sauce, lemon and rosemary sprigs.A plate of whole sea bass, bone removed, seasoned with Calabrian chilli sauce, lemon and rosemary sprigs.

Expert tip

Sea Bass has many small bones, so be careful when eating!

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