Garlic baby sea bass

I don’t have much to say about my knitting. Actually, I haven’t been knitting much for the past couple of days. So, why not share a recipe?

In Spain we have some delicious baby sea bass native to our coasts and it goes on sale this time of year. A dish that is popular here is called lubina a la bilbaína which is just a fancy way to say “garlic baby sea bass.” It is not difficult to prepare.

This fish recipe is so flexible that you can double it, triple, or halve it. As a matter of fact I’m not going to say how many sea bass you should buy. Figuring out a serving size is easy: one whole fish per person.

So, go to your fish monger and buy as many baby sea bass as you need. Have the fish monger cut their heads off and splay them open. The fish should be cut open so that they lay like an open book. There’s no need to de-bone the fish and the scales should not be removed.

So, here’s what you do:

  1. preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (or 200 Celsius)
  2. chop a lot of garlic – for each fish you need about three or or four cloves
  3. place your fish on a baking sheet or other type of baking pan
  4. season the fish with salt
  5. cover them with bits of garlic
  6. drizzle olive oil over them
  7. roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes depending on their size

Now, the meat of the fish will get a nice crispy texture on the outside and be soft and juicy on the inside. The garlic will brown a little bit and as it bakes it imparts its flavor to the fish thanks to the olive oil.

I like to eat my garlic baby sea bass with some plain white rice (seasoned with salt and pepper, of course) and a salad. Sometimes I season my fish with fresh lemon juice. Today I didn’t. Of course, I snapped a pic of my plate so you can see how it looks:

Photo Aug 06, 5 20 50 PM

I allowed my fish to stay in the oven perhaps 5 minutes longer than I usually do because these little “babies” were a bit meatier than I’m used to seeing.

How to eat your baby sea bass: just pick at the fish with a fork. You can use the tines of your fork to scrape the meat from the spines or you can simply lift the entire spinal column out of the meat. It will separate cleanly and easily.

When you make your first batch you’ll understand why I said it’s essential to leave the bones in and the skin on the fish because you’ll notice that, once cooked, the fish is a bit fragile. The skin and the bones hold it all together.

I’m pretty sure you can adapt this recipe to using a grill outside. The only thing you might need to do is put the fish on some aluminum foil.

The trick to pulling this dish off is to buy fresh baby sea bass. You can’t really use frozen fish because the bass’s flavor is the main feature. This, of course, is typical of Spanish cuisine. Most age-old, tried-and-true Spanish recipes use very few ingredients because the whole concept of enjoying food in Spain is to make the flavor of the main ingredient come through and truly shine. A lot of dishes that we consider “Spanish”aren’t really too terribly unique. Take, for example, the way lamb chops are traditionally prepared here: lightly salted and cooked on a grill or in a grill pan with some olive oil.


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