Lavraki Plaki (pronounced Lav-RHA-kee plah-KEE) (Dicentrarchus labrax), is a Greek recipe for Mediterranean sea bass baked in the oven.
In North America it is widely known by its Italian name branzino.
“Plaki” refers to a method of cooking, usually braising or baking and and may refer to several dishes that are cooked in a sauce, usually made of onions, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil.
Apart from the basic ingredients, I have also added some potatoes and carrots. If you like, you can also add some zucchini or eggplants and make a Briam, before adding the fish.
As potatoes and carrots, need much more time to cook than the fish, I cook them ahead and add the fish on top when the vegetables are almost cooked.
To reduce the time of cooking the vegetables, I cut them into very thin slices, about 1/2 cm thick. The carrots must be even thinner as they need more time to cook than the potatoes.
When baked the vegetables caramelize, making a delicious side dish.
If cooking the fish, using only the basic ingredients, you can cook the fish adding the onions, garlic and tomatoes simultaneously and in about half an hour your dinner is ready.
What other Fish can I use?
Cooking whole fish is one of my favorite ways to eat fish.
For this recipe I chose sea bass, but I’ve made this dish many times with other fish such as grouper, European hake (called cod in Greece), gilt head, sea bream, saddled sea bream, she drum, grey mullet, swordfish, fresh anchovies, garfish, etc..
Practically, you can use any whole fish or even bigger fish cut in slices, such as this swordfish plaki.
European Sea Bass (a.k.a. “Branzino”, “Loup de Mer” or “Bar”) was considered in Ancient Greece to be the smartest of all fish, as it was the most difficult to catch.
The time needed to bake the fish will depend on its type and size. A flat fish, for example, will need less time than a round fish. The biggest the fish is the more time is needed.
However, if you have a meat thermometre the ideal temperature is 55ºC – 60ºC .
By experience I can tell you that a fish around 1 kilo, needs about 30 – 35 minutes maximum, depending on your oven. Don’t cook it even a minute more as it dries very quickly.
You do not need to score the fish on top or brush it inside out with olive oil or fill its cavity with a ton of herbs.
Keep it simple. This way, it preserves the delicate flavor of sea bass.
I highly recommend you try this method.
As an extra bonus you will also have the side dish cooked along with the fish!
- 3 sea basses (branzino), about 350 - 400 grams each
- 2 dried onions, cut into thin slices
- 1 green onion (white and green part), cut into thin slices
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 kg potatoes, cut into very thin rings, about 1/2 cm
- 300 grams carrots, cut into very thin slices
- 200 grams (13 cherry tomatoes or other small tomatoes) cut in the middle
- 1 tbsp salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp oregano
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup white dry wine
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup water
For the fish:
- Salt, pepper, oregano and rosemary
- Ask your fish monger to gut and scale the fish (leaving heads on), and rinse well.
- Wash and pat dry. Wrap them with cling film and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Season inside out with salt, pepper and oregano.
- Add some rosemary in the cavity.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius
- Peel and wash the vegetables.
- Put all the vegetables in a large baking pan, approx. 30*35cm., and season with salt, pepper and oregano.
- Add the olive oil, lemon juice, wine and water.
- Bake them for thirty minutes and toss them over. Continue baking until the vegetables
- are almost tender, for about 15 more minutes.
- Add the fish on top and bake for 20 more minutes.
- Remove the head and bones and drizzle some ladolemono on top.
- Serve with the vegetables.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 646Total Fat 30gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 24gCholesterol 40mgSodium 2034mgCarbohydrates 67gFiber 10gSugar 8gProtein 26g
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