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 have many delicious holiday main dishes and Nowruz recipes and today, I'm sharing on of my all-time favorites with you. Here is a special dish for Yalda which is also commonly served for Persian New Year - Nowruz. This is the way we always prepare fish this time of year. It's one of our favorite recipes.
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Making a whole fish is easy!
One of the things I love about Persian recipes is that there is always room for creativity. And now that Nowruz is around the corner, it's time to bring out a delicious fish recipe, too. Since Nowruz is a special time of the year for us Iranians, we try to go above and beyond with the fish preparation which will be the main meal of the New Year.
That's why in my family, we usually make a whole fish and we usually use branzino because of its tender flesh and mild flavor. If you like branzino, make sure to check out our grilled branzino recipe, it's so tasty!
In addition to fish, there are so many different recipes we make around Nowruz, including favorites like Ash Reshteh, Kuku Sabzi and Sabzi Polo. You can learn more about Persian New Year by reading my piece on Nowruz and everything about it.
Ingredients To Make Stuffed Branzino
- Branzino: I usually get one branzino per person and ask the person at the counter to clean the insides so I can stuff it with the filling after roasting.
- Onion and garlic: Used to marinate the fish and to make the filling.
- Spices: You need salt, pepper and turmeric for this recipe.
- Lemon: For a bit of freshness and bright flavor!
- Bell pepper: Use red, yellow or orange bell pepper for the filling.
- Herbs: Dried rosemary and thyme work best for this recipe.
- Walnuts: They add a good crunch to the filling and go well with the fish.
- Barberries: They are small red berries used in Iranian dishes such as zereshk polo. You can find them in Persian or Middle Eastern stores as well as online.
- Pomegranate molasses: Adds a nice tart flavor to the filling that balances the fish. Find it in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Persian stores. It's also available online.
How To Pick The Right Fish For Persian Stuffed Fish Recipe
For this Persian fish recipe you need one whole fish for each person. Branzino is a great choice for this recipe as it's tasty and, when cooked, it's flaky and easy to handle.
When choosing the branzino, keep these tips in mind:
- Make sure the eyes are bright and not foggy or dark.
- If poked, the flesh should bounce back.
- Fresh branzino should not smell "fishy".
- The skin should be plump and shiny with no missing scales.
How To Make Stuffed Branzino
- Start by marinating the fish with lemon juice, olive oil, onion, and spices. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes until fully cooked. .
- While the fish is roasting in the oven, make the filling. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add in the bell pepper as well as rosemary and thyme. Season with salt, pepper and turmeric. Add in the walnuts and barberries. Finish with pomegranate molasses and set aside.
- Once the fish is fully roasted, stuff it with the filling and serve immediately.
What Do You Serve Stuffed Branzino With
You can serve stuffed branzino with many side dishes. Here are a few suggestions:
- Rice dishes: Sabzi polo, dill rice, spanakorizo or Greek lemon rice.
- Potatoes: Greek potatoes, roasted potatoes or Greek baked fries.
- Salads: Green bean salad, Greek salad, Mediterranean salad or roasted cauliflower salad.
Leftovers and Reheating
Like any other seafood dish, this branzino recipe is best served immediately. However, if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat in a pan, covered, over medium heat for about 15 minutes until heated through.
Frequently asked questions
Transfer the stuffed branzino to your plate and start from one side of the fish. I usually don't eat the skin but the flesh and the filling are absolutely tasty. Make sure to separate the bones.
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.
While not exactly the same, chopped dried cranberries can be used in place of barberries.
More Fish and Seafood Recipes
Did you make this recipe? I'd love to hear about it! Please comment and leave a 5-star🌟 rating below. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or subscribe to our newsletter to get a free e-Cookbook!
Stuffed Fish with Pomegranates and Walnuts - Persian Style
- 4 whole branzino clean the insides
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lemon juice of
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 yellow bell pepper diced
- ½ tablespoon dried rosemary
- ½ tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ cup barberries see notes
- ¾ cup walnuts chopped
- 3 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 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 (No need to put the onion) and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes until it's fully cooked.
- 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 and walnuts followed by the pomegranate molasses.
- Lower the heat and let everything cook for 2-3 minutes until flavors are fully combined. Adjust the sourness and saltiness 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.
- Find barberries and pomegranate molasses at Persian, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean shops as well as online.
- It's best to serve this dish immediately, however, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat in a pan (covered) over medium heat for 10-15 minutes before serving.
- Serve this dish with sabzi polo for Nowruz (Persian New Year).
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!
I don't make Fish that often but had to give this recipe a try! It came out fantastic! So happy I made this!
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!!!!
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!
Hi Pamela! This particular one in the photo is stuffed after it's baked. You can also simply bring the stuffing separately and use it as a topping 🙂 A variation of this dish is also published on Food52: https://food52.com/recipes/77021-baked-salmon-with-walnuts-barberries
What a striking presentation!! I haven't made fish in ages. This might have to be the winner.
Thank you Meaghan! This is our favorite!
Christine | Vermilion Roots
Oh Shadi, I am really loving all your Persian recipes! Hope you're enjoying your Christmas week. I enjoy eating whole fish and would love to have a whole fish made with this recipe all to myself. 🙂 I'm familiar with all the ingredients except barberry. Where can I get it in the US?
Christine! I'm so happy you like my Persian recipes! You will love this fish and if you are a fan of salmon, I can tell you that this will be awesome with salmon too as we had it last night 😀 You can find barberry in Middle Eastern / Arab shops 🙂
This looks so delicious and I love anything with Pomegranate 🙂
Me too Molly! For me fall is more about pomegranate than pumpkin!
Vicky from @Avocado Pesto
This looks delicious. I looooove making whole fish (though salmon is a favorite of mine too). I used to be wary about cooking whole fish but now I love it - so much more flavor than with a fillet. Not sure I've ever seen pomegranate molasses, or barberry in stores. What exactly is barberry? Think this could be made without it?
You can find pomegranate molasses in QFC Vicky, I guess maybe other stores that have a middle eastern/Mediterranean section will have it. Barberry is a type of berry which is sour and is very tiny. you can use a bit of lemon or lime juice instead but if you find them, you will like them!
Christine | Mid-Life Croissant
This is stunning. I've been too intimidated to ever make a whole fish but I'm awfully tempted by this one!
It might seem intimidating and difficult but actually it's really easy!
I'm half Filipina and my family does tons of fish for the holidays too! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Hi Megan! You are welcome! I would love to know how other nationalities prepare fish! 🙂
That's kind of intense, but also sounds delish.
This sounds way too good to not try!! Thank you so much for sharing. My parents come into town in a few months, and they're huge fish eaters! Definitely making this!
Thank you Bianca! I'm glad you like it and I hope your parents like it too! <3 🙂
I'm not usually a big fish person, but this looks so yummy I might just want to try it sometime!
A family recipe never disappoints Sabrina 🙂 Hope you like it!
Great fish recipe. Thanks
You're welcome 🙂