It's an undeniable fact that Sea Bream is one of the tastiest fish! Especially when grilled. For many people (including me) it even beats a Sea bass in flavor.
What Does Sea Bream Fish Taste Like...
It's a fatty fish, with a taste similar to that of a Sea Bass. But even more flavorful. Its flesh is white and very light in texture, unlike tuna or salmon that have a more dense texture.
Best Way To Cook A Sea Bream
If you have never yet tasted a grilled Sea Bream you don't know what you're missing. Seriously! The best way is to grill this fish on a charcoal bbq. Because it adds so many aromas to the fish, that it's going to be one of the best things you'll ever taste!
I can say this for a fact since whenever we serve this fish at our restaurant cooked this way, everyone loves it. Not that cooking it on a gas grill is not good enough (we do serve it this way also). But grilling it on charcoal is just top of the top. So keep this in mind for you next bbq, if you own a charcoal grill or even a fireplace. I don't know if people actually do this in other countries, but grilling on the fireplace is a very common Greek thing. I mean if you do have a wood fire lit, then why not take advantage of it? By placing a grilling basket and grilling some Souvlaki for example? It's a pity wasting all the coal from the burned woods.
-Right way to grill on the fireplace (advice especially for men): Place a big piece of aluminum foil to cover the surface of the fireplace you're going to grill on, before creating a greasy mess!
By the way, did you know that the best way to clean a greasy grill is by using ashes? Yes, you'll be amazed at how easily burned grease is removed by using ash. Just dip a grill brush in the ashes and brush the grill with it (without adding water).
Preparing A Whole Sea Bream For Grilling
I've been meaning to write a guide on how to clean a fresh fish but until I do, you can see how to clean and gut a fresh fish in this video given below. (skip to 3:40 to see how it's cleaned, unless you also want to know how to check if your fish is fresh).
Two things I do differently from the cook in the video are 1). I use a fish scaler. It's much easier and quicker this way. And 2). I make only one incision right in the center of the fish (lengthwise), following the main bone. Because this is the thicker part of the fish, that takes the most time to cook and is more difficult to season. So making the incision there, you season the fish properly and help the heat reach all the way through to the bone.
How To Grill A Sea Bream
To prepare the Sea Bream for grilling, first tap dry with a paper towel. Leaving water on the fish will make its skin stick to the surface of the grill.
Secondly, rub plenty of olive oil all over the fish with your hands or a pastry brush. Season with plenty of kosher salt adding some in its belly, in the incision, and inside the head. Keep in mind that fish needs more salt than meat does.
Heat your grilling surface very well (IMPORTANT). Whether you use a charcoal grill, a gas grill, or a grill pan, it's really important to heat well before adding the fish. Otherwise, the skin will stick on it, leaving the flesh free to dry and fall apart.
So start over high heat until the skin gets cooked. Takes 5-6 minutes on charcoal and gas grill, 2-3 minutes on a grill pan. Then flip the fish to cook the skin on the other side as well for the same amount of time. It's easier to do this using a grill basket since you don't have to flip the fish itself. But if you use a gas grill or grill pan then use flat tongs to turn the fish and grab it from its head. This way you won't destroy its delicate skin.
NOTE: When grilling on charcoal and gas grill the fire will get stronger once you add the fish. That's because like I said, its a very fatty fish and until most of the fat drains from it, you'll have to pay attention to keep the flames in check so they won't blacken the fish. To do this we use a plastic squeeze bottle filled with water (in some grill houses they use lemon juice) to put off the fire here and there when needed.
After the skin is cooked on both sides, you may drop the temperature to medium-low. Overall cooking time for a charcoal grill is 10-15 minutes, on a gas grill is about 15 minutes, and on a stovetop grill pan is 10 to 12 minutes.
How To Check If A Grilled Fish Is Cooked
To see if your Grilled Sea Bream is done, grab hold of the fish from its head and hold it to face down. If water has stopped coming out from its mouth completely, then the fish is done. Another way is to take a peek inside the incision you made right where the center bone is located, by pressing the incision to open slightly using your tongs.
And if for whatever reason you took the fish off the grill too quickly, and is still a little pink in the center, then microwave for about 1 minute uncovered.
"Must-Adds" When Serving Grilled Sea Bream
To a Greek, it is almost sinful not to serve a grilled fish or meat drizzled with Ladolemono and oregano. Ladolemono is a lemon and olive oil dressing that's poured over grilled fish and meat right as they come off the heat (it's absorbed while the food is still hot). Just mix together 1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice with two parts extra virgin olive oil and pour a generous amount of it all over.
And on top of this, plentiful of dried Greek oregano is added. If you want to try the real thing, try this Greek oregano in batches!
A mouthwatering Classic Greek Salad →
Grilled Sea Bream (on charcoal, gas grill + grill pan)
- 2 fresh Sea Breams 350-500 grams each
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- dried oregano
- Scale and gut the fish. Make a lengthwise incision in the center of the fish (where the main bone is located) on both sides. Rinse well to remove any remaining scales or blood from the fish. Then tap dry all-around using paper towels.
- Place fish on a plate and drizzle with olive oil. Rub the olive oil all over the fish (so it won't stick when cooked). Season with kosher salt on both sides, inside the incisions, the belly, and its head as well.
If Using A Stovetop Grill Pan...
- Heat the grill pan over high heat. Add both the fish and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, on high heat.
- Drop heat to medium-high and cook for a few minutes more 10-12 minutes overall.
If Using A Charcoal Grill...
- Heat the grilling surface, whether it's your grill's rack or a grill basket until it's very hot.
- Add the fish and cook for 5-6 minutes before flipping the fish to its other side. Don't turn the fish any sooner than this, because you may destroy its skin. Cook for another 5 minutes on its other side. If you have a strong charcoal fire the fish won't take longer than 10-12 minutes overall. If the fire is not that strong it may take up to 20 minutes for the fish to cook. Hold the fish from its head in order to face down and if water has stopped coming out from its mouth then it's ready. If not cook a bit more.
If Using A Gass Grill...
- Heat your grill over high heat until the rack is smokey hot.
- Add the fish and turn the heat to medium. Cook the fish for 5-6 minutes before turning it. In order to flip the fish to its other side, use a pair of tongs (preferably flat ones) and grab hold of it from its head. Cook the fish on its other side as well 5-6 minutes more. Hold the fish from its head again in order to face down and check if water has stopped coming out from its mouth. This way you can tell if it's ready. If not, grill for a few minutes more.
- Squeeze a fresh lemon and mix its juice with ⅔ olive oil. Stir until fully combined and then pour over the hot fish. Sprinkle plenty of dry oregano on top.
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