European bass or Branzino is a round, non-oily, tropical ocean fish found predominantly in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. European sea bass is also called loup de mer in French, white salmon, Spigola or Lubina or simply as bass.
Scientific name: Disentrarchus labrax, in Moronidae; the family that also includes yellow bass and white perch.
|Branzino (European sea bass). Photo credit-LHOON|
Branzino is the Italian name for this silver-skinned fish which is most prized in the Mediterranean cuisine for its lean, firm, white and delicate flesh.
The spotted seabass (Dicentrarchus punctatus) is a close relative found temperate marine and brackish waters of the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.
Chilean sea bass (Patagonian tooth fish) is different species fish native to coastal waters of Southern Chile and Argentina.
Striped American sea bass (Morone saxatilis) is also a different species fish found in the Eastern coastal waters of United States.
European Sea basses live in coastal waters in small schools in although sometimes are found in brackish or fresh water. They can also be found in saltwater lakes, lagoons and some large river estuaries. Branzino feed on small fish, crustaceans, and fish eggs.
Branzino (European seabass) is a round, warm water marine fish. It is readily identified by its silvery grey, scaly, elongated body. They have two separate dorsal fins and rayed anal fin. The anal fin is slightly forked.
It ranges in size from one and a half to three pounds and has a firm, white, delicate-flavored flesh and few small bones. In Italy, the Sea Bass is intensively bred in salt waters.
Adult fish ranges in size from 30 to 50 cm in length and weighs one and a half to three pounds. Commercial farming of sea bass is successfully undertaken in Italian Mediterranean coasts for export to the United States.
European sea bass (Branzino) is one of low calorie round fishes; 100 g holds just 97 calories.
It is non-fatty (white fish) oceanic fish; nonetheless it is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids but at lower levels than oily fish.
Branzino is one of the finest sources of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin-A, E and D (cholecalciferol).
100 g of wild, line-caught sea bass holds 226 IU (56.5% of daily recommended intake) of vitamin-D. This hormone-vitamin plays a vital role as immunity booster, anti-cancer agent and promoter of bone metabolism.
Branzino's lean, white meat composes good amino-acids profile. 100g fish provides 18.43 g/100 g (33% of RDI). Protein composition is complete in the sense that all essential amino acids in a healthy proportions.
Its lean meat is a good source of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Studies suggest that eating seafood can decreases the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity and hypertension. Seafood is low in saturated fat and higher in “heart healthful” polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acids.
US-FDA categorises European sea bass in "the best choice" section considering mercury levels in its flesh. The recommendation is consumption of eat 2-3 servings a week for European sea bass.
Branzino is a moderate source of omega-3 eicosapentaenoicacid (EPA), docosapantaenoicacid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids. Research studies suggest that these fatty acids, particularly DHA, play an important role in the development of nervous system, especially in infants and children.
According to Cornell University and the New York Sea Grant Extension Program. 2012- the fatty acids play crucial role in decreasing blood pressure and heart rate and help improve cardiovascular function. For example, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) that can lead to sudden death.
In adults, several large trials have evaluated the effect of fish or fish oils on heart disease. In the "GISSI Prevention Trial heart attack survivors who took a 1-gram capsule of omega-3 fats every day for three years were less likely to have a repeat heart attack, stroke, or die of sudden death than those who took a placebo".
Being deep water, non-oily fish, European sea bass contains moderate amounts of vitamin-A (154 IU/100g). Additionally, its omega-3 essential fatty acids help keep healthy mucosa and skin.
100 g of European sea bass filet holds pyridoxine (B-6)-0.400 mg (31% RDA), and niacin-1.6 mg (10% RDA). It is also a good source of vitamin-E, vitamin-B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Branzino filet is naturally rich source of minerals including selenium (36.5 μg or 66 RDA%), iodine, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Iodine is an important trace element in human nutrition and is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis.
Branzino are available year round, as a whole fish or as fillets in the US markets. They are best in spring or early summer, before they spawn. Look for bright, firm fish with silvery skin, pink gills and clear eyes.
Fresh, wild, line-caught sea bass fetches higher price than farm produce. However, farmed bass is not only more affordable, but available in plentiful supply all year round. Farmed bass are relatively large and have a slightly higher fat content.
At home, store fish and filets in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. For extended use, scale and gut whole before storing in the deep freezer.
If you buy whole fish, cleaning of branzino begins by cutting away the fins and then scaling its body. After that, make an incision along its belly and remove the innards. After gutting the fish, it must be washed thoroughly both on the inside and the outside and then mop dried. It then employed in cooking or wrapped with polythene and stored in refrigerator.
Branzino is one of the finest fish, with very few bones and a firm flesh and delicate flavor that holds its shape in stuffing, grilling or baking.
Here are some serving ideas:
|Branzino. Photo credit: kyopia|
Branzino is a versatile fish. Depending on the serve size; smaller fish can be used in stuffing with lemon slices and herbs. Large fish can be filleted are great for grilling or pan-frying.
Wild caught Branzno has ratings 3 and 4 (yellow and amber). As there are better rated alternatives under sustainability consideration, branzino fishing should be limited as much as possible.
Methyl mercury levels in European sea bass is 0.167 Parts Per Million (PPM). Accordingly, the U.S FDA final guidelines on how much fish expectant as well as breastfeeding mothers can eat, along with lists of specific options that are safe or should be avoided, places sea bass under the best choice category. By this yardstick, they can consume eat 2-3 servings a week. (Medical disclaimer).
Also read <<-Salmon nutrition facts and health benefits.
Further reading (Links opens in new window):
Seafood guide -PDF.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.