My latest obsession is Branzino. This Mediterranean seabass has been a long time favorite whole fish and I almost always order it when on offer at restaurants. I’ve recently been experimenting with the fish at home with great results. I start with a cleaned and scaled Branzino (around 1 lb.). I stuff the cavity with half of a sliced lemon and several sprigs of thyme. I then brush both sides of the fish with olive oil and season both sides with sea salt and pepper. I wrap the fish in parchment paper and seal the ends securely, I place the package in a baking dish and bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes – That’s it!
I filet the fish, drizzle some olive oil with minced garlic, chopped parsley, and lemon zest (gremolata) over the top and serve with a wild arugula salad dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper and topped with shaved parmesan.
The simplicity of preparation and focus on ingredients of this meal screams of Italy, and I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with Italian wine pairings. One of my favorites has been Simbiotico, a tasty blend from Sannio in Campania.
Winemaker Francesco Iocono with the support of the Muratori family has set out to explore this ancient territory through the cultivation of its most renowned native varietals (Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, Greco, Fiano, to name a few). Simbiotico represents an ongoing commitment to complete sustainability. It reflects a profound respect for the environment. It is a wine born of advanced soil management and rigorous low intervention winemaking…and of course most importantly, the wine is delicious. It has distinct floral notes in contrast to the minerality derived from Campania’s volcanic soils. It’s a complex wine I would describe as pretty but with backbone – truly a wine that makes you think.
Oppida Aminea ‘Simbiotico’
Producer: Oppida Aminea
Varietal: Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, Greco, Fiano
Sugg. Retail: $24