Girls on Food

Pescatarian

Whole Roasted Sicilian Style Branzino

Whole roasting a fish intimidated me for a long time. Clean out the insides? No thanks. It sounded a little too chef-y.  Far beyond my capabilities. Or, so I told myself.

But, a few years back, I was craving a dish my family made for years.  So, I decided if my Nonni can do it, so can I.  Now whole-roasting is one of my absolute favorite ways to prepare multiple types of fish!  Overcoming kitchen fears is the best!

If you are new to whole roasting fish, branzino (also, called Mediterranean sea bass) is a great place to start! It’s small in size and has a wonderful flaky white flesh! Due to prevalence on restaurant menus and increasing popularity, its easy to find at fish markets and specialty grocers year-round – regardless of where you live!

Branzino are native to Mediterranean waters although most of what’s available in North America is farmed off the coast of Greece. Nonetheless, this fish and method of preparation are extremely popular throughout the Mediterranean region – including where my family is from in Sicily! Using a simple salt crust technique to lock in the moisture, we can roast a moist, tender, flaky, and flavorful result every time!  Gorgeous, healthy, flavorful, and roasts to perfection in only 20 minutes; what’s not to love?

Lets get started!  The video shows the step-by-step method, and the full recipe is listed below!

Whole Roasted Sicilian Style Branzino

35 minutes, 2 servings per fish

For the Branzino:

1 – 1.5 lb. whole branzino (per 2 persons)*

½ tsp. kosher salt

½ sliced small lemon

½ small shallot, thinly sliced

2 fresh mint sprigs

kitchen twine

parchment lined baking sheet

For salt crust:

2 large egg whites

~ 1 lb. kosher salt

For serving:

2 tbsp. balsamic reduction**

1 tbsp. + drizzle high quality extra virgin olive oil (about 1 tsp.)

2 tbsp. freshly chopped mint leaves

juice from ½ lemon, divided

zest from ½ lemon

freshly cracked black pepper

½ tsp. plus more for seasoning

pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Roasted Asparagus:

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

½ lb. asparagus spears, ends trimmed

2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

mint leaves for garnish

*At most seafood markets and specialty grocers, you can request that they gut the fish for you. Just make sure that they leave the tail and head alone! The fish must remain whole to lock in moisture!

**To make balsamic reduction, place ¼ c. balsamic vinegar on stovetop over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium, swirling every minute or so, continue to simmer for 4-5 more minutes until balsamic has reduced by about half (this will yield 2 tbsp.). Immediately transfer to a heatproof bowl and set aside. This can be done up to 2 days ahead if desired. Store in an airtight container if making ahead.

Arrange oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

If your fish has not already been gutted: make an incision from the belly side beginning just below the head and continuing to the tail end. Remove all guts and organs. Rinse inside and outside of the fish clean.

Once your fish has been gutted, season the inside of cleaned branzino with salt.  Arrange slices of lemon, sprigs of mint, and thin slices of shallots inside each fish.  Secure by wrapping fish with kitchen twine. (This step can be completed up to 2 hours ahead if wrapped and refrigerated.)

On a separate rimmed baking sheet, place trimmed asparagus, 1 tbsp. olive oil, ½ tsp. kosher salt, minced garlic cloves, and the small sliced shallot. Toss to coat asparagus. Set aside.

To make the paste for the salt crust, use a fork to combine about 1 lb. of salt with enough egg white to form a paste in a bowl.  For me, this was 2 large egg whites.  Spread a thin layer of the salt paste on the parchment paper lining the prepared baking sheet. You only need to cover the surface area where the fish will lay. This should use about 1/2 of the salt paste. Then place fish on top of salt paste layer and arrange remaining salt paste over the top of the fish in a thin layer. You want to cover the entire surface area of fish because the paste forms the crust that locks in both flavor and moisture.

Transfer both baking sheets to the oven and roast for about 20 minutes.  Roast fish on top rack and asparagus on bottom rack. After 20 minutes, remove fish from oven! Give asparagus a turn and roast 5 minutes longer.

Allow fish to rest for 4-5 minutes before removing the salt crust.  Use your hands and dull knife to peel away the salt crust.  It should come off very easily and often in large sections.  Discard salt crust.

Remove asparagus form the oven.

Remove the twine and try to remove as many additional bits of the salt crust as possible from the fish. Work carefully so that the fish doesn’t completely fall apart.

Transfer branzino onto the baking sheet with the asparagus. Working with one side at a time, make an incision down the spine of the fish and near the fish’s tail, so that the skin can easily be peeled and rolled away from the meat. Roll the skin away until you reach the fin/gill region. The fish’s skin worked hard to lock in the fish’s moisture and flavor in the oven. The combination of the steamed flesh and the skin’s contact with the salt paste will make it very easily peel off of the fish’s tender flaky tasty flesh. Carefully flip the fish over and repeat this step on the other side.

On a 1 – 1.5 lb. fish, the meat from one side of the fish is about one serving.

Add a squeeze of lemon juice, drizzle of olive oil, pinch of kosher salt and Himalayan pink salt, chopped mint leaves, lemon zest, and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with roasted asparagus and crispy shallots. Garnish with slice of lemon and a few mint leaves.

Enjoy!

XO,

Maria


Don’t forget to share your recipe photos on Instagram by tagging @girlsonfoodblog and @almostproperly. We love seeing what you make!

 

Best Friend Time At Point Loma Fish Shop in San Diego

Before even moving to San Diego I made a trip down here to visit a friend and visited the best little fish shop in Pacific Beach. I was completely in love with its charm and all of its fresh and healthy options (and it’s onion rings). So when I heard the news that Fish Shop was opening a location in Point Loma, literally a 5 minute drive up the hill from my house, I was so excited. My best friend, fellow Girl On Food Tania, was coming down for a girls day and I knew I had to take her here to try out the new location!

Point Loma Fish Shop
1110 Rosecrans St, San Diego, CA 92106
http://www.thefishshoppointloma.com

We headed out to Point Loma Fish Shop on a sunny Sunday afternoon after a morning of wedding dress shopping for Tania, and we were both starving and so ready for some food. I started with a Karl Strauss Red Trolly while Tania sipped on a glass of Benzinger Sauvignon Blanc, and we got to checking out the menu.

The menu at The Fish Shop is set up so that you can choose your fish, pick a seasoning, and then choose how you would like it served; on a plate with two sides, on a salad, in a sandwich, or in tacos! There is also a menu of other favorites, such a fish and chips, and the signature fish tacos they are famous for, like the TKO taco which is seriously delicious.

Onions Rings and Coconut Shrimp

We decided to start with coconut shrimp, per our servers recommendation, and I threw in an order of onion rings, because I actually dream about them here sometimes. The coconut shrimp was so tasty, the breading was flaky and light and the accompanying sweet chili sauce was the perfect place to dip. The onion rings were the best thing ever, as per usual, gigantic and crunchy.

For lunch, I opted for mahi mahi in their Fish Shop seasoning, with a side salad dressed in citrus vinigrette and mixed grain rice. This is my go to order here, though sometimes I’ll switch up my fish or seasoning. The fish is so fresh and the fish shop seasoning is tangy and a little bit spicy, a perfect compliment to it. This is exactly the meal one wants to eat on a patio with an ice cold beer on a sunny Sunday afternoon, perfect in every way.

Tania decided on grilled yellowtail with a garlic butter glaze, along with a side of mix greens and mixed grain rice. She wanted to try yellowtail cooked, since it’s her favorite fish to eat as raw sushi, and she was not disappointed! She liked the subtle flavor of the seasoning that didn’t overpower the natural flavor of the fish.

Point Loma Fish Shop was the perfect pit stop in the middle of a perfect day, and is a place that I will be visiting time and time again. I couldn’t be happier to have a location so close to my house, this is a spot that is definitely going to become a favorite in the Point Loma and Ocean Beach community.

Thank you to Alternative Strategies for setting up this tasting. 

Kinilaw For a Mom-To-Be

I’ve finally hit 35 weeks of pregnancy and I can confirm the fast food and other gluttonous urges are hitting me pretty hard! But I have been in the kitchen creating recipes that are meat/poultry-free, clean and using sustainability conscious ingredients.

When asked to develop a recipe with Blue Harbor Fish Co I jumped at the chance!

Their products tuna is MSC certified sustainable and dolphin-safe. Plus, I love the pouch option, they save so much room in my well-stocked cabinet.

Kinilaw is traditionally a Filipino dish similar to poke or ceviche. I wanted to create a pregnancy-friendly recipe for those of us out there who are missing our raw fish.

Kinilaw For a Mom-To-Be

1 serving

In a small mixing bowl, combine the following:

1 3 oz. pouch Blue Harbor Wild Albacore – No Salt Added

2 tablespoons Calamansi juice

1 tablespoon grated ginger

3 tablespoons thinly-sliced red onion

1 tablespoon coconut vinegar

1 Thai chili sliced and de-seeded

1 tablespoon coconut milk

Pinch of fresh cilantro (extra sprigs for garnish, if you like)

Salt and pepper to taste

Serve alone or with tostadas for a crunch.

Enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Blue Harbor Fish Co; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Meatless Monday at El Amerikano in Fullerton, CA

Being a non-meat eater I’m a huge fan of “Meatless Monday” becoming a thing. Mainly because I feel its raising awareness about the awesome dishes possible without having a formerly living creature in the recipe (tehehehehe). On a given Monday it’s always super exciting to see all the different recipes and dishes being showcased in the interwebs! Jackfruit tacos, DIY chickpea veggie patties, tofu nuggets – oh my! Little by little the rest of the world is being exposed to the lavish lifestyle non meat eating tastebuds are subjected to. 

Usually others will ask “OMG how can you live without meat? It’s so delicious blah blah blah.” The answer is now becoming clearer to them. I’ll be showcasing some of my fave dishes from a local gem of mine you can make your new Meatless Monday go to’s. 

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Ideas For a Vegetarian Friendsgiving

Veggie Friendsgiving!

Carla here! Thanksgiving season is here and it’s my favorite time of the year! Halloween is a close second but there’s just not enough savory foods involved. I’ve been a pescetarian for 7 years, and while I never impose my diet on anyone, I just serve awesome meatless meals that I would enjoy and after a few bites, my friends eventually forget about having meats as mains.

Thanksgiving is a great time but Friendsgiving is equally important. To celebrate all of the amazing friendships in our lives, I scoured the internet high and low to find out what the best dishes for this year’s Veggie Friendsgiving feast. There are so many delicious options that bring all the flavors and feels of the season without meat! Try them one or try them all!

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Healthy Cioppino with Jammy Roasted Tomatoes

Up in the Pacific Northwest, we are officially entering the gray monotony of wet, cold, and miserable weather until spring. Which means its time for foods that warm me up! This usually puts what I am craving and what I should eat at a crossroads.

Carb-y creamy things may be delicious, but what about all those veggies I should be eating? Is anyone else feeling big time comfort food cravings as soon as the weather turns??

Instead of choosing between comfort food and health, I’m combining them with this cioppino! Its packed full of veggies, fish, fresh herbs, the most luscious broth, and an amazing secret flavor bomb ingredient: slow roasted cherry tomatoes! They are jammy and umami rich in the best possible way! They add incredible complexity and richness to the soup!

It’s the perfect light – yet filling – way to warm up on these cold wet days!!

Now, to the recipe!

Note: The soup is dairy free and gluten-free. The olive oil crostini is optional for serving!

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The Gramercy Garden Eating Club in NYC

It’s difficult to focus on how you are eating when you are so much more focused on what you are eating. Steph Jensen, whose background is rooted in health and wellness, is well aware of this. In an effort to educate others on why focusing on how you eat is important, she started a whole dinner series focused on mindful eating called The Gramercy Garden Eating Club.

For her club, she teams up with local New York City chefs to bring her guests a “mind-to-table” experience right in her own private NYC patio. The dinner I attended was cooked by Micah Fredman who has cooked in incredible NYC restaurants including Gramercy Tavern and Eleven Madison Park. The night was full of an incredible paleo/pescatarian menu, approachable guests and eating tips that are simple enough for any foodies to follow.

All ingredients used for this dinner were picked from the farmer’s market the morning of the dinner, so the freshness of the vegetables really stood out during the meal.
Chilled squash soup- The chilled squash soup was perfect for a hot summer night, with its smokey finish from spices. It was a great opener to the rest of the courses leaving you not too full but instead, excited for what’s to come.

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