Branzino, known as loup de mer, or "wolf of the sea" in French, is mild and sweet. Its delicate flavor pairs nicely with a summery tomato–and–mixed herb vinaigrette. Scoring the fish skin before cooking prevents the fillets from curling in the pan.

July 2022


Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Recipe Summary

30 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Grate cut sides of tomato halves on small holes of a box grater into a medium bowl until only tomato skin remains in your hand; discard tomato skins. Add 6 tablespoons oil, vinegar, herbes de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and garlic to grated tomato in bowl; whisk until well combined. Set vinaigrette aside.

  • Place 1 branzino fillet, skin side up, over rim of a plate. Gently fold fillet over the rim to pull the skin taut. Using a sharp paring knife, score only the skin by making 3 to 4 shallow slashes, being careful not to cut too deep into the fillet. Repeat scoring process with remaining 3 fillets. Sprinkle both sides of fillets evenly with 1 teaspoon salt.

  • Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add fillets, skin side down, to skillet; using a fish spatula (see Note), gently press each fillet to flatten. Cook, undisturbed, until skin is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Flip fillets; cook until just cooked through, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer fillets, skin side up, to plates or a platter.

  • While fillets cook, toss together mesclun, parsley, chives, tarragon, and, if using, chervil in a large bowl to combine. Add 1/3 cup tomato vinaigrette, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss well to coat.

  • Serve salad alongside branzino fillets, passing remaining vinaigrette (about 1/2 cup) at the table.


The large surface area and flexible paddle of a fish spatula make it perfect for pressing fish fillets flat as they cook.

Suggested Pairing

Medium-bodied Oregon Pinot Gris: Ponzi Willamette Valley