Persian Style Branzino Recipe

4.88 from 16 votes
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This delicious branzino recipe with Persian flavors will impress anyone! Learn how to make a whole roasted branzino at home perfectly every time using these tips and notes. 

Persian Style stuffed branzino is a very special recipe that's bursting with amazing flavors. The filling includes walnuts and pomegranates which gives it a great crunch and taste!


 

We eat a fair amount of fish in this house and branzino is definitely one of our favorites. I’ve already shown you how to grill branzino and how to fry it (Perfect for Persian New Year!), and today I’m going to share one of my all time favorite branzino recipes with you: roasted whole in the oven with amazing flavors! 

Roasting a whole fish is a lot easier than what it seems and it’s the perfect fish dinner for gatherings as well as a weeknight dinner. It requires some preparation but you can do a lot of it in advance. Follow along to see how I make this delicious fish dinner that would knock your socks off! 

What Is Branzino?

Also known as Mediterranean or European seabass, branzino is a fish with a mild and delicate flavor. It’s popular in Mediterranean cuisine and can be prepared and seasoned in various ways. This fish goes by other names including levrek in Turkish or loup de mer in French. It’s native to the waters of Northern Africa as well as Southern and Western Europe.        

Persian Style stuffed branzino is a very special recipe that's bursting with amazing flavors. The filling includes walnuts and pomegranates which gives it a great crunch and taste!

Branzino can be grilled, baked, pan seared or prepared whole as we have done here, making it a great choice for a variety of recipes. The flesh is white and flaky once it’s cooked. Its mild flavor makes a great canvas for herbs, spices and marinades. Tart additions such as lemon juice or pomegranate molasses make this fish very tasty. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when buying branzino:

  • The eyes should be bright and not foggy or dark. 
  • The fish should not smell bad or “fishy”.
  • The scales should not be missing and the skin should be shiny. 

Ingredients For Persian Style Branzino

To make this recipe you need branzino, parsley, olive oil, lemon, garlic, walnuts, barberries, onion and spices.
  • Branzino: If the fish is large, one would be enough for 2 people.
  • Onion and garlic: You’ll use them for the marinade and the filling. 
  • Spices: For the marinade, use turmeric, salt and pepper. For the filling, you’re also going to use oregano. 
  • Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds a lot of flavor to the fish. 
  • Olive oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for this recipe.
  • Bell pepper: You can use red, orange or yellow bell pepper to make the filling. 
  • Barberries: They are tart and add a nice flavor to the filling. 
  • Walnuts: Chopped walnuts add a nice crunch. 
  • Pomegranate molasses: An optional addition, pomegranate molasses adds a bit of tartness to the filling that goes well with the fish. You can use homemade pomegranate molasses or get one at a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean store.

How To Cook Whole Branzino

Marinate the branzino and roast it. Meanwhile make the filling and stuff the branzino.
  1. Prepare the fish: Make sure the fish is clean inside and outside and brush it with olive oil. Season the insides and outs with turmeric, salt and pepper. Add sliced onion and lemon juice. Set aside for 30 minutes and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Roast the branzino: Roast the fish in the oven at 400 for 25 to 30 minutes until it’s fully cooked. 
  3. Prepare the filling: Sauté the onion until translucent. Add in the garlic and bell pepper and cook for a few minutes. Add in the oregano, salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add in the barberries, walnuts and parsley. Stir and cook for a few minutes, turn the heat off and set aside. 
  4. Fill the branzino and serve: Take the roasted branzino out of the oven and spoon the filling into each branzino. Transfer them to a serving platter and spread the rest of the filling around the fish. 
Persian Style stuffed branzino is a very special recipe that's bursting with amazing flavors. The filling includes walnuts and pomegranates which gives it a great crunch and taste!

Tips To Make The Best Branzino

  • Season well: Branzino has a tender texture and mild flavor therefore it absorbs flavor very well. A bit of lemon juice and spices can go a long way. 
  • Quality fish: Get the best branzino available to you. Most already have the insides clean, but if not, ask the person who works at the seafood counter to clean them. 
  • Check for doneness: You’ll know the fish is ready when the flesh is white and flakes easily. 
  • Broil if desired: If you like the skin to be a bit crispy, broil the fish for 3 to 5 minutes. Keep a close eye since the skin burns easily.

What Do You Serve Branzino With

Serve this delicious fish dinner with a variety of sides including salads and potato dishes. Here are a few favorites: 

Leftovers and Reheating

Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 300 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes until completely heated through. I don’t recommend freezing cooked branzino as it would lose its flavor and texture. 

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes, you can marinate the fish and refrigerate it up to 6 hours in advance. You can also prepare the filling a day in advance.

What can I use instead of barberries?

While not exactly the same, chopped dried cranberries can be used in place of barberries in this branzino recipe.

Do you eat the skin of branzino?

Yes, the skin of branzino is edible. When branzino is roasted, the skin becomes crispy and flavorful. The skin can add a nice texture contrast to the tender flesh of the fish. 

Do you remove the bones from branzino?

You don’t need to remove the bones prior to roasting the whole fish. They can be separated and removed easily while eating.

Should I wash the branzino before cooking?

According to the USDa washing raw fish would spread bacteria on other surfaces therefore it’s best to avoid washing the branzino before cooking. 

Persian Style stuffed branzino is a very special recipe that's bursting with amazing flavors. The filling includes walnuts and pomegranates which gives it a great crunch and taste!

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4.88 from 16 votes

Persian Style Branzino Recipe

This delicious branzino recipe with Persian flavors will impress anyone! Learn how to make a whole roasted branzino at home perfectly every time using these tips and notes.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Rest: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4
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Ingredients 

Fish :

  • 2 whole branzino, clean the insides
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon , juice of

Filling:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup barberries, see notes
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley , chopped
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Instructions 

Branzino:

  • Rub the olive oil on both sides of fish and cover generously with salt, pepper and turmeric.
  • Put the fish in a dish and add onion and garlic, mix so the onion is all over the fish.
  • Cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with 2 layers of parchment paper.
  • Put the fish on the baking sheet and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes until it's fully cooked.

Filling:

  • While the fish is roasting, work on the filling. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute the onion for a few minutes until translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for a minute.
  • Add the bell pepper followed by the dried rosemary and thyme. Saute for another minute. Season with salt, pepper and turmeric.
  • Add in the barberries, walnuts and parsley followed by the pomegranate molasses.
  • Lower the heat and let everything cook for 2-3 minutes until flavors are fully combined. Adjust the salt as desired.
  • Stuff the fish with the filling and add the remaining filling on top of the fish.
  • Top with pomegranate and serve with rice, potatoes or greens.

Video

Notes

  • Find barberries and pomegranate molasses at Persian, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean shops as well as online. You can also make pomegranate molasses at home
  • Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 300 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes until completely heated through. I don’t recommend freezing cooked branzino as it would lose its flavor and texture. 
  • Iranians serve this dish with sabzi polo for Nowruz (Persian New Year). 

Nutrition

Serving: 4g | Calories: 847kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 86g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 360mg | Sodium: 1734mg | Potassium: 1416mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1355IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

About Shadi HasanzadeNemati

I'm here to show you how to make delicious Persian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at home. My easy to follow recipes will bring exciting new flavors to your table!

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4.88 from 16 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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29 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was everything a gourmet meal should be, and then some! Turned out tender, delicious and impressive; easily, a new favorite recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    The combination of flavors from the spices, fresh herbs, and tangy lime juice is absolutely divine. The fish came out perfectly tender and flavorful. I will definitely be making this again!

  3. 5 stars
    My husband is especially fond of fish and he really enjoyed this branzino – thanks for a great recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    This is a recipe you want to make when you’re entertaining and want to be fancy…..because the presentation is beautiful and it’s not at all hard to make. BONUS – the flavors are FANTASTIC! We loved it!

  5. 5 stars
    I don’t make Fish that often but had to give this recipe a try! It came out fantastic! So happy I made this!

  6. 5 stars
    Let me start by saying that we’re from the Gulf region, so we know fish, and we love fish.
    We are also very fond of all things Persian. So when I tell you that we tried this recipe today…

    !!!!!!!

    This was absolutely delicious! What a delight! We couldn’t stop smiling!!!!!!! THAT’S HOW GREAT THIS WAS!!!!
    Thank you for the incredible recipe! This is one we’ll definitely be coming back to time and time again!!!!

    Khaili mamnoon!

  7. This looks scrumptious! But is the fish really stuffed only AFTER it has been cooked? Wouldn’t this result in burnt fingers and fish that arrives at the table less than hot? Could one stuff it first, bake it, and then scatter it with pomegranate seeds, perhaps? Thanks!