Yesterday Collin popped into the Test Kitchen and asked if I’d cook some Sea Bream for him.
Collin is one of our buyers here at Orca Bay. We have a fantastic group of folks buying our seafood; I think the world of all of them. Collin specializes in Asia. He had come across a deal for Sea Bream and wanted to check the quality.
I’ve heard of Sea Bream, but I confess I’ve never cooked it, nor tasted it. Asking if I’d cook some was like asking a needlepointer if she wanted to go to the yarn store! Collin gave me about six portions. When he had his back turned, I grabbed another six. All twelve went into my refrigerator to thaw.
In the thawed state, the fish looked fantastic. Snowy white in color, it had a firm texture and a good, clean aroma.
Skin side of a Sea Bream fillet
A fillet of this size, shape and thickness allowed for a lot of options for preparation. But I really wanted to taste the stripped down version of this fish. “Keep it simple” is not necessarily my style, but I did my best.
I preheated the oven to 425 F. , yanked out my two biggest fry pans, and mixed up a quick flour dredge. 1 C. flour, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. table grind black pepper. Four fillets went on a lightly buttered quarter sheet pan, four went into the flour dredge, and four waited patiently on a plate for olive oil to heat in the skillet!
Bream awaiting the oven
Bream in the flour dredge
As with any thin fillet, the Sea Bream cooked quickly. The unadorned fillets in hot olive oil were the fastest; I had them flipped in about 3 minutes, and off the range within 6!
Sea Bream sauteed in olive oil, medium hot pan
The lightly flour dusted fillets took a bit longer. Of course, the flour provides a little insulation. And the goal is to get a nice golden color on that coating. I cheated a bit for that and threw a bit of butter into the olive oil. These fillets were probably cooking about 8 minutes.
Flour dusted Sea Bream, fried to a golden goodness!
The oven baked Sea Bream took the longest. Frankly, I lost track of time. After maybe 10 minutes, my patience wore thin and I turned my oven over to broiler mode. But of course it’s an electric oven, and the elements take time to heat up, and after another 2 minutes I gave up entirely. My thermocouple showed one fillet to be at 147 F. anyway. I used the opportunity to turn impatience and luck into confirmation of professionalism and expertise.
Sea Bream baked in a hot oven
Here’s my “take away” on Sea Bream- I liked it. I found it to be mild in flavor, slightly firmer than flounder, with a bright white color. It would work well in any sauced or breaded application, as the fish won’t overwhelm the other flavors. In fact, I want to get more fillets from Collin so I can whip up a Moose Drool Beer Batter! I’ve found that flounder can be tricky to work with, especially when flipping it. It can crack, flake and break apart. The Sea Bream held together nicely, flipped easily, and presented nicely on the plate.
A quick Google search for Sea Bream will show that the name can tend to be a catch-all for a wide variety of seafood. The particular genera and species of the fish that I cooked? Collin has confirmed it as Gymnocranius frenatus. Yellowsnout Large Eye Bream. A fine piece of fish. A debatably difficult name!