Branzino is a Mediterranean sea bass that swims in the waters all around the boot of Italy. When it swims over to France, the French call this fish hup de men The Italians and Greeks are farm-raising branzino organically, so look for that. We like to buy whole fish, that way it's easy to see how fresh it is by looking it straight in the eye (which should be bright and clear, never cloudy). We ask our fishmonger to butterfly and debone the fish, but keep the head and tail attached, so the body of the fish opens up like a book. Really, any white-fleshed fish would be a delicious substitute.


  • 1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup minced fennel bulb, plus some chopped fronds for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 whole branzino, butterflied and deboned, with the head and tail attached
  • Really good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


Preheat the oven to 500°. Mix together the shrimp, fennel bulb, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, ground fennel seeds, pepper, and salt to taste in a mixing bowl. You can make this a few hours ahead (in fact, it will benefit from it) and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place each branzino, open like a book, skin side down on the paper. Divide the shrimp evenly between the fish, arranging them on top of each one. Spoon the marinade over the shrimp.

Cook in the oven until the shrimp and the fish are opaque, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the fish to a large warm platter. Drizzle with really good extra-virgin olive oil, and garnish with fennel fronds and lemon wedges. For individual servings, divide each fish into 2 filets and place them on 4 plates, with the shrimp on top. Drizzle with really good extra-virgin olive oil and serve garnished with fennel fronds and lemon wedges.

Serves 4

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Submitted 2/24/12.
Source: Canal House Cooking
Submitted By: b smith

Branzino with Shrimp and Fennel