Califonia Bountiful
Main Dish

Pan-roasted branzino with celery root puree

Prized for its sweet and flaky meat, branzino is ideal for cooking whole because of its small size and even smaller bones. Chef Daniel England prepares the fish with simple ingredients, including a celery root puree that complements its delicate flavor.

Chef Daniel England
OMG Hospitality Group, San Diego

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Celery root puree
3 cups whole milk
3 cups water
3 large celery roots (about 3 lb.), peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp. ground white pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt, to taste

Roasted branzino
4 (1- to 1 1/2-lb.) whole branzino, scaled, gutted and skin scored on both sides
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 lemons, sliced into rings
2 small bunches thyme sprigs


For puree: In a heavy saucepan, add milk, water, celery roots, potatoes, shallots and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Strain and reserve 1 cup liquid.

Combine vegetables in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add butter 1 cube at a time until smooth and creamy. You can use reserved cooking liquid to thin puree if too thick. Season with pepper and lemon juice. Add salt to taste.

For branzino: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pat fish dry; rub cavity and skin with oil, then season generously with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity with lemon slices and a few sprigs of thyme.

In a hot sauté pan (at least 12 inches), add a little oil and place fish in pan. Sear for 2 minutes. Using a fish spatula, gently flip fish. Place pan with fish in the oven and roast until just cooked through (8 to 15 minutes, depending on size).

To serve: Drizzle puree on a serving plate and place fish on top. You can use roasted lemons as a garnish.

Serves 4 to 6

Photo: © 2021 Walter Wilson

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