Loupe de Mer

loupe de mer aka: branzino or sea bass
Loupe de mer

Loupe de mer

My love affair with seabass is scandalous! I spare no expense to find what I want. I have often found myself hiding the receipt from Santa Monica Seafood from hubby – it that bad?

I am just kidding! Hubby loves seabass as much as me. I first experienced this fish while in Paris a few years ago and it has remained on my mind ever since.

Call it what you will – loupe de mer, Branzino, European seabass. Whatever the case, it is delicious! It is a silver-skinned fish found in European sea and saltwater lakes, loupe de mer goes by many names, including European sea bass, spigola, branziono, róbalo, and lubina.

Loupe de mer ranges in size from one-and-a-half to three pounds, has a firm, white, delicate-flavored flesh and few small bones. I typically find these fish in the market dressed, on ice, weighing in around .5 lbs. I bought two fish this morning for about $13. Not cheap, but less expensive then what you will find this fish for in a restaurant.

My favorite recipe is quite simple. I bathe the fish in olive oil and sea salt, and stuff it with fresh thyme and lemon. It works great on the grill and roasts well in the oven on high heat at 375.

Barramundi with Lemon Caper and Tomato Sauce

Stephanie at Beach

Happy New Year!! I headed to the beach to get a little rest and relaxation from taping my two shows, Appetite for Adventure! and Wacky Weddings, and wanted to share my recipe for barramundi with lemon caper and tomato sauce! This is one of hubby’s favorite recipes.

If you are experimenting with adding new types of fish to your diet, barramundi is an excellent choice. It is a meaty fish with mild buttery flavor. I have purchased this fish fresh from my fishmonger and frozen from the freezer case and have have great results from both. Pan frying then roasting in the oven is an excellent way to prepare this fish but it also works well on the grill or barbeque.

Barramundi’s native waters span from Northern Australia up to Southeast Asia and all the way west to the coastal waters of India and Sri Lanka. The name is Aboriginal for “large-scaled silver fish”. These days, at the fish is mostly farmed for commercial use and is increasingly being used as a sustainable replacement to overfished species such as Chilean sea bass. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program provides recommendations for selecting farmed fish.

What I find interesting about this species is that virtually all Barramundi are born male, then turn into females when they are 3 – 4 years old. This means female Barramundi can only be courted by younger men!


Pan-Fried Catfish


It must have been all of the Jill Scott and Erica Badu that I listened to this week that helped influence this neo-soul food meal! Soul food means different things to different people, but for me it mostly means fried fish and greens – in this case catfish and a mixed of collard and mustard greens.


Pan-fried Catfish

I love to experiment with catfish because it is versatile and works well with a variety of spices, herbs and cooking techniques. One of my favorite ways of preparing catfish is by blackening it by using a variety of dry and fresh herbs and spices, and roasting it in the oven. My other favorite method is pan-frying.

Pan-frying is a cooking technique that involves a skillet and a moderate amount of oil. I love this technique because it turns the fish crispy, golden brown and moist in the center. I don’t fry food very often, but when I do, I enjoy pan-frying.


Four (4) small catfish fillets

Spice blend: A tablespoon each of garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper, sea salt and dried thyme. Mix to blend.

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 large paper bag

Oil for frying


Start by rinsing the catfish fillets. Pat the fish dry, but not too dry. We want a little extra moisture on the fish because this will allow the flour to form a crust when frying.

Sprinkle the spice blend directly to the fish; be sure to coat each piece evenly.

Place the flour in the paper bag. Add the fish to the paper bag and shake gently to coat. After a few shakes the fish should be coated. If not shake it again. Once the fish is well coated with flour remove them from the bag and allow them to rest on a tea towel or paper towels.

Heat a skillet, preferably cast iron, to about 375 degrees. Add two pieces of fish at a time. Once the fish begins to fry, lower the temperature to about 360, this will prevent the flour coating from burning. Cook on one side for about 4 minutes then turn and cook for another 3 minutes. The fish should be dark golden brown.

Remove the fillets from the heat and allow them to rest on a cooling rack or a paper bag (makes for easy cleanup).

I enjoy serving fried catfish with spinach, kale and any kind of greens. It is also great as a sandwich.