Pan Roasted Branzino

Growing up in Italy, the best treat of all would be to go to a fish restaurant. Even with 4,700 miles of coastline, and numerous fishermen professional or not, eating fish is the ultimate treat for many Italians. So it was with great deference that I first approached the Spigola, as it was called in central Italy, or Branzino, in Northern Italy. And knowing that it was a very expensive dish made me savor every single bite as if it was a gift from the sea.

When the first farmed branzino started to be marketed in Italy, I was startled by the drop in price compared to the wild caught ones of my youth. I bought one at the market with a little apprehension. I was in for a big surprise; perfectly delicate taste, tender and flaky texture, not oily: the fish is a great one even when farmed.

Now, farming methods have improved hugely, and the fish is usually farmed in the sea: a technique used in Italy as well as in Greece, Turkey, and other Mediterranean countries. All in all, branzino is an exceptionally good choice, very low in mercury, offered at a reasonable price, and usually very fresh. Branzino is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and has a low calories count.

It can be cooked whole, but for those who do not like to remove the bones while eating, you can ask the fishmonger to fillet it: you will have 2 beautiful filets, usually corresponding to 2 small or 1 large portion, depending on what else you are serving. This is the way we use it in this specific recipe.


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For 4 Servings

1 cup Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
½ glass of white table wine
1 pint chicken stock preprepared (or vegetable stock)
1 cup rinsed blueberries
1 cup roasted chestnuts or more, chopped in big pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese (optional)