The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat branzino. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.
What branzino etiquette is
Branzino etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat branzino. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.
If you are hosting, follow branzino etiquette to serve it to your guests appropriately.
If you are a guest, respect branzino etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.
What you should know about branzino
Branzino is a fish. It is also known as European bass. It lives mostly in saltwater, such as in the Mediterranean. Many varieties exist. Its flesh is firm and white and has a delicate flavor.
Etiquette rules to serve and eat branzino
1) How to store branzino
It is best to eat branzino right away. Do not leave branzino outside, at room temperature, for over 2 hours.
You can store raw branzino in the fridge for 1 or 2 days. Cooked branzino can last 3 to 4 days.
Alternatively, you can store raw branzino in the freezer. It can last for up to 2 to 3 months. Cooked branzino can last up to 4 months in the freezer.
2) How to clean branzino
Do not rinse branzino before cooking. According to the USDA, washing raw fish before cooking risks spreading bacteria.
Place branzino on a flat surface such as a cutting board. Hold it by the tail with one hand. With your other hand, scrape the branzino with a knife to remove the scales. Scrape from the tail toward the head.
3) How to cook branzino
You can cook branzino in multiple ways. Bake, bake in salt, roast, sauté, pan-sear, or grill. You can cook branzino whole, or cook it in filets.
Cook branzino thoroughly to avoid food poisoning. Fresh branzino should cook at a temperature of at least 65°C (145°F).
4) How to serve & present branzino
Serve branzino whole or in filets.
If you serve branzino whole, you should clean it on the serving plate. Then, proceed to serve your guests, or pass the serving plate around.
To serve a whole branzino, first cut it into two halves along its spine, from head to tail. Leave the head and the tail intact. Start from the head, hold the fish still with a fork, and cut the belly open from head to tail with a knife. Gently open the fish into two parts.
Plate and serve one piece at a time. Do not serve random pieces here and there. Follow an order, starting from the head and working your way down to the tail. Do not flip the branzino over to reach the meat on the other side of the spine. Instead, gently lift the spine and remove the flesh from beneath.
5) Foods and wine to pair branzino with
Branzino goes well with many roasted, steamed, or fried vegetables. Potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. Branzino can be an ingredient for pasta or risotto.
Do not pair branzino with meat or dairy products. Do not add it to pizza.
Pair branzino with white wine. Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, white Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Albariño, Vermentino, or Gewürztraminer. Do not pair branzino with red wine.
6) How to eat branzino
If branzino is served whole on a serving dish, serve yourself with a few whole pieces of flesh. Use the serving utensils to place the flesh on your plate.
Eat branzino with a fish fork and a fish knife. Do not use the knife to cut the flesh. Instead, use it to part in small bite-sized pieces.
Look out for small bones, but do not make a mess or get obsessed with finding them. If you encounter a small bone in your mouth, discreetly remove it with your fingers. Place it on one side of your plate.
Branzino etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst branzino etiquette mistakes.
- 9/10. Serving spoiled branzino.
- 7/10. Serving and plating branzino without an order.
- 6/10. Pairing branzino with meat or dairy.
- 5/10. Pairing branzino with red wine.
- 4/10. Using your knife to cut branzino.
Additional information for properly serving branzino
How many calories per serving?
Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.
Branzino contains about 124 calories per 100 grams. An individual serving is usually 225 grams (½ pound) per person. It contains around 280 calories.
How to buy the best branzino
A crucial factor in branzino etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.
Season and availability
The seasons for branzino vary based on the variety, the habitat, and the region.
Choose the best
To buy the best branzino, choose whole fish with clear eyes and fresh shiny skin. If you buy a cut or a filet, choose branzino with white skin.
Alternatives to branzino
Popular substitutes for branzino are sea bass, red snapper, or cod
Do you wash branzino? No, do not wash branzino before cooking. Just remove its scales with a knife or a spoon.
Do you need to descale branzino? It is best to remove the scales with a knife or a spoon.
Can you eat the skin of branzino? You can eat the skin of branzino if you remove the scales and you cook the fish properly, at a minimum temperature of 65°C (145°F).
Can you eat branzino raw? No, undercooked branzino has a high risk of bacteria. You should cook branzino at a temperature of at least 65°C (145°F).