One of my absolute favorite fishes of all time is the Gilt Head Sea Bream. It has a variety of names around the world like Dorada in Spanish speaking countries, Orata in Italy, Amber Sea Bream (translated) in Greece, and more. It is a great fish for multiple reasons, but the best way to cook it is to make a simple Mediterranean Baked Sea Bream using the whole fish. If you can’t find Sea Bream, I have a similar recipe for baked Mediterranean sea bass.
If you’ve never cooked a whole fish before, don’t worry, it’s actually really easy. If you can buy it scaled and gutted at the fishmonger I say do that, but if you can’t, cleaning it is not a problem. Scale the fish as you would any other fish; Hold the tail and use a knife or fish scaler to scrape from tail to head. Then rinse off the fish to wash away any dislodged scales. To gut the fish make a cut from below the gills down to the anal fins. Then just scoop out the innards and give everything a good rinse.
My favorite way to cook this dorado sea bream is the Greek way. Or, at least the way I learned how to cook it from my guesthouse host in Agios Giorgios, Corfu. I first make a spice mix from dried herbs including Oregano, Onion Powder, Marjoram, Thyme, Salt, Pepper. If you buy a store-bought spice mix it may also have garlic powder, rosemary, and lemon zest in it, but as I’m using fresh rosemary, minced garlic, and lemons I didn’t add that to the spice mix.
To prepare the gilt head sea bream take the seasoning mix and sprinkle it liberally into the guts cavity. Then shove in a fresh sprig or two of rosemary, five cloves of garlic chopped in half, and two lemon wedges to somewhat seal it. Trust me on this, the flavors of this Mediterranean baked sea bream are so delicious.
This is an easy fish recipe because once you have the fish scaled and gutted (which you can sometimes buy already done at a fishmonger) the cooking is fairly straightforward. I lay the fish after stuffing and seasoning both sides of it on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Then I take a sharp knife and cut three slits diagonally across one side of the fish. I put in a half lemon slice into the slits, and then use two thin lemon slice halves to cover the tail. You don’t need to do this, but if you like eating the tail like a chip it prevents it from burning too much.
You can cut the fin off if you want, or you can do it after it is cooked. Then I simply pop it into an oven at 210 Celsius for 25 minutes. Easy as pie and it comes out perfectly every time. The bones are easy to remove as you cut into it, and the meat is juicy and delicious. You can also grill this like I do with my grilled trout if you prefer some outdoor cooking!
Eating a whole fish intimidates many people, but it’s quite simple. Use a fish knife (can use a butter knife in a pinch) to cut a line from the top of the head down to the tail along the spine. Then simply pry the meat from the bones.
Mediterranean Baked Sea Bream
- Oven Tray
- 1 whole Gilt Head Sea Bream aka Orata, Dorada, Dorate etc. Scaled and gutted. Mine was about 450 grams, if yours is more or less you may have to adjust baking time.
- 1 Lemon
- 5 cloves Garlic peeled and split
- 2 sprigs Rosemary fresh
- 2 tbsp Greek Seasoning Mix store-bought or make my blend
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil high quality, but no need to use anything gourmet as it's being baked
- 1 tsp Flaky Sea Salt
Greek Fish Seasoning Mix
- 1 tbsp Oregano dried
- 1 tsp Marjoram dried
- 2 tsp Thyme dried
- 2 tsp Parsley dried
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 2 tsp Black Pepper freshly cracked
- 1 tsp Fennel Seed ground
- 1 tsp Dill Weed powder
- Make the seasoning first since that can be stored. Just mix together all seasoning ingredients. If your herbs are not as fine as you'd like and you want to get a real fine grind then use a coffee grinder.
- Pat dry your scaled and gutted fish with a few paper towels. (For cleaning instructions see the body of this article).
- Preheat your oven to 220 Celsius.
- Lay your fish on a cutting board or workstation. Into the cavity of the fish sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix. Then stuff it with the two sprigs of rosemary, the 5 cloves of split garlic, and two wedges of the lemon.
- Rub each side of the fish with the olive oil. Take the other tablespoon of seasoning and season both sides of the fish. Move the fish over to a parchment paper lined baking tray.
- Take a sharp knife and cut three slits diagonally on one side of the fish. Into the slits put half slices of the lemon. Also put two half slices over the tail to prevent it from burning (the tail is edible)!
- Sprinkle with the flaky sea salt and put the tray into the oven.
- Bake the sea bream for 25 minutes. Adjust time if your fish is more or less in weight than mine (450 grams).
- Serve with some roasted potatoes and a wedge of lemon.