Dinner in USA / Branzino al Cartoccio

A good meal starts with good ingredients, hence while in the United States Wholefoods is a pretty good starting point. The fish counter is always filled with fresh catches, they carefully indicate where each lot comes from, they even have a sustainability ranking system labelling the species from “best choice” (green label), “good alternative” (yellow label) and “avoid” (red label); on top of that they even clean your buy while you are finishing shopping. No wonder to me this comes second only to buying fish straight from the fisherman.

I went in with the initial intention to get some good mackerel for a recipe that once a fisherman from Bari in Italy gave me, as I was declaring my dislike for this kind of fish he promised to refund me if I would have not liked it cooked as he adviced. He was so right!

Before even getting as far as the mackerel section, I came across some splendidly fresh Branzino (European Seabass) and decided it was too good to pass, so the fisherman’s recipe was soon to get a makeover becoming Branzino al Cartoccio. But keep in mind that it works just as well with mackerel.

Here is what you need:
Branzino or mackerel – potatoes – cherry tomatoes – capers – bread crumbs – lemon – thyme – rosemary – mint – olive oil – sault – pink pepper – garlic – greaseproof paper – cooking twine.

Here is how you do it:
Clean the fish (if it’s not already cleaned) / cut the cherry tomatoes and in a small bowl mix it with sault, pepper, capers, finely cut erbs / cut the potatoes in half-a-finger high round pieces / mix bread crumbs with sault, pepper, finely cut mint / cut lemon in round slices.

Take the greaseproof paper and lay it on a flat surface / make a bed of potatoes and sprinkle it with sault, garlic, bread crumb mix, capers, a little of tomatoes and olive oil / lay the fish on the potatoes’ bed and fill the stomac with sault, pepper, garlic, lemon slices, thyme and rosemary, and a little of the tomatoes / sprinkle more bread crumb mix, capers and olive oil on the fish and close the whole thing in the greaseproof paper by folding twice along the longer side, twisting the shorter sides like a candy wrap and fixing it with the cooking twine.

Take a large oven tray, cover it with the remaining potatoes and season it just like the the potatoes in the fish wrap / put the the fish wraps on the tray and pop it in a 400F/200C warm oven.

Cook for 20 to 30 minutes and voilà Branzino al Cartoccio is served!

Never forget to buy fish responsibly, to do so I get a little help with a great app that ranks how sustainable is each fish you might find on the fish counters.
GoodFish Guide from the Marine Conservation Society is an excellent tool to make easy and sure we eat both healthy and sustainable. Don’t be shy and use it a lot!




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