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"Keep Looking" Whole Roasted Black Bass with Beet Greens Salsa

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Baked Whole Black Sea Bass Recipe with Beet Greens Salsa - an easy and delicious baked fish recipe with step by step instructions for choosing and cooking whole fish.

whole baked fish recipe on black tray

MOOD MUSIC

Sade's "Keep Looking," if you listen deeply is about how one responds to adversity. My journey to eat fish was a long, arduous, and scary one, but recipes such as this roasted whole bass with beet greens salsa make it worthwhile. Up until about four years ago, I had severe insensitivities to fish. I'm talking Hitch like full facial swell ups, eyes like Rocky post 12 rounds, and tight almost completely shut esophagus type insensitivities.

From childhood to adulthood I tried different types of fish - catfish, bass fish, trout fish, salmon fish, baked fish, grilled fish, fried fish, etc. all met with the same violent allergic reactions. However, despite the many issues and beat downs, I remained steadfast in my desire to break bread with my family over a plate of fish.

I jumped in fully starting with cooking whole fish first chance I got. Figured I'd make up for lost time and shake any fears and/or reservations about cooking whole fish. Trust me, it's not as hard as you'd think. Actually, it's quite easy and satisfying.

Black Sea Bass Recipe Ingredients

How To Cook Whole Sea Bass

Using a cleaned and scaled fish, score each side of the fish diagonally creating about 3 slits per side.

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.

Rinse the exterior and interior of the fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season inside of fish with salt, pepper, lemon slices, and salsa. Close the fish
Place a cast-iron skillet over high heat and add the olive oil. Sear the fish for 3 minutes then flip over with a spatula and repeat.
Spoon additional salsa into the diagonal slits of the fish. Place pan and fish in the oven and roast for another 3 minutes. Remove and let fish rest. Serve wih lemons

Tips For Cooking Whole Fish

I've become a huge fan of whole baked fish recipes or grilled for that matter. One, you're almost guaranteed quality, can't beat the value, there seems to be much more flavor (whole fish is also more juicy, because it's cooked on the bone and in its skin), the presentation is awesome and adds to the experience of eating, and the bones can later be used to make homemade fish stock. Here are a food good tips to follow when cooking whole fish:

  • Fresh fish should have shiny, tight almost wet looking skin and be cow-eyed, i.e. eyes bulging out. If the eyes are cloudy and drooping move on.
  • For serving size, esteem about a pound per grown up and adjust down for kids
  • Make sure you have your fish guy do all the dirty work in terms of scaling, cleaning, gutting, etc. It's still probably a good idea to check for scales anyway just in case especially if you run into a situation as I did recently when I had a newbie handling my order.
  • When prepping, treat your fish like you would chicken, i.e. rinse then pat it dry, and season it inside and out with salt and pepper
  • Score the outer flesh of fish by cutting 2-3 slits about an inch apart across one or both sides of the fish. Don't make these too deep, just enough to massage the salsa into the slits.
  • Stuff the cavity with aromatics like fresh herbs, garlic, and/or lemons.
  • Season ridiculously with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. 
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up
  • To tell when it's done push down on the thickest part of the fillet, where it meets the head. If it starts to break away from the bone, it's done.
  • Serve immediately and squeeze some lemon juice over the fish
  • To serve the fish follow these carving directions 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is There A Good Substitute for Black Bass?

This whole baked fish recipe calls for black bass, but this was merely due to the fact that it was the freshest fish for my needs that my fish guy had on hand. I'm a sucker for red snapper, but the selection at the time was not up to standard. Also, trout or branzino would have worked just as well if not better. Branzino is a very popular choice for a whole baked fish recipe.

Will other greens work for the salsa?

The beet greens salsa from my earlier post puts this fish recipe over the top. The fresh herbs and earthy spices are a perfect compliment to the bass fish. I'm big into not wasting food, so chose beet greens for this recipe since I had used beets in a salad for lunch. Feel free to substitute your green of choice. I've used collard greens, carrot top greens, as well as kale and chard. The flavor and color change slightly from green to green but end result for all is damn good!

MORE FISH BASED RECIPES

Fish and Grits

Grilled Mahi Mahi

Smoked Trout

Grilled Cedar Blank Salmon

Grilled Salmon Steak

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whole baked fish recipe on black tray

whole baked fish recipe on black tray

Roasted Whole Black Sea Bass

Baked Whole Black Sea Bass with Beet Greens Salsa - an easy and delicious baked fish recipe with step by step instructions for choosing and cooking whole fish.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 135kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • 2 whole black bass fish about 1 pound each, scaled, gutted and cleaned
  • 2 lemons thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt or fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil for the cooking pan
  • 4 tablespoons Beet Greens Salsa Verde

Instructions

  • Score each side of fish diagonally creating about 3 slits per side
  • Heat oven to 475 F.
  • Rinse the exterior and interior of the fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Season inside of fish with salt, pepper, lemon slices, and salsa. Close the fish
  • Place a cast iron skillet over high heat and add the olive oil.
  • Sear the fish for 3 minutes then flip over with a spatula and repeat.
  • Spoon additional salsa into the diagonal slits of the fish.
  • Place pan and fish in the oven and roast for another 3 minutes. Remove and let fish rest. Serve wih lemons

Notes

  • Trout or branzino can easily be substituted
  • Fresh fish should have shiny, tight almost wet looking skin and be cow-eyed, i.e. eyes bulging out. If the eyes are cloudy and drooping move on.
  • For serving size, esteem about a pound per grown up and adjust down for kids
  • Make sure you have your fish guy do all the dirty work in terms of scaling, cleaning, gutting, etc. It's still probably a good idea to check for scales anyway just in case especially if you run into a situation as I did recently when I had a newbie handling my order.
  • When prepping, treat your fish like you would chicken, i.e. rinse then pat it dry, and season it inside and out with salt and pepper
  • Score the outer flesh of fish by cutting 2-3 slits about an inch apart across one or both sides of the fish. Don't make these too deep, just enough to massage the salsa into the slits.
  • Stuff the cavity with aromatics like fresh herbs, garlic, and/or lemons.
  • Season ridiculously with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. 
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up
  • To tell when it's done push down on the thickest part of the fillet, where it meets the head. If it starts to break away from the bone, it's done.
  • Serve immediately and squeeze some lemon juice over the fish
  • To serve the fish follow these carving directions 

Nutrition

Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 74mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 28.6mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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