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Friday, March 9, 2012



Photo by: zone41 
OCast vesugo, Cat bogarravel, L. Pagellus bogaraveo, ME brem(e), Eng. sea bream. Silvery reddish, salt-water fish characterized by a black spot above pectoral fins. The maximum size of sea bream is 20”. They can live up to 15 years. The English, French, Portuguese and Spanish caught them in the Atlantic. The Archpriest of Hita indicates that those from Bermeo, on the Atlantic coast in Viscaya, were famous. Also, they inhabit the western Mediterranean but are very rare in the eastern area. Today, it is considered a Madrilan fish, although brought from the Atlantic, sea bream traditionally meets its end in Madrid where it is baked especially for supper on Christmas Eve. Too, it is a traditional Lenten dish fried in olive oil. [Ares. “Comidas.” 1994:121; Camba. 1995:144; Nola. 1989:lxvi-1; Ruíz/Brey. 1965:1112d:179; and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a]

For 6 persons

Nola stated that sea bream can be boiled in orange juice and its own broth, pepper and ginger; grilled with oil and served with orange juice and pepper sprinkled over it; fried in oil, orange juice.and pepper; or put in escabeche like pandora (see "azafrán" published on January 11, 2011 for recipe). As sea bream is traditionally baked on Christmas eve, this is an adaption using Nola’s ingredients.


1 large sea bream or 2 smaller ones to total about 4 lbs


Photo by: lavinadepatxi 
1 tsp freshly ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 orange and zest
*2 lbs small turnips
1 large onion peeled and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
1 tsp saffron mashed
7 tbsp chopped parsley
6 tbsp  olive oil


Make deep slashes on both sides fo the bream, across the thickest part for it to cook evenly.

Season the fish with ginger, salt and pepper. Pour the orange juice over it and rub it in well inside and out.

Wipe the dirt off the turnips with a paper towel. So not wash them or they will steam in the oven. Trim the roots and stems. Arrange the turnips and onions in layers in a greased ovenproof dish large enough for the bream.

Pound the saffron and the garlic in a mortor. Add the parsley. Gradually add 4 tbsp olive oil and 4 tbsp of water. Then spoon this over the turnips and onion. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the turnips and onion are almost cooked.

Lay the bream on top of the turnips and onion and pour the remaining olive oil over it. Return to the oven and bake 25 to 40 minutes until cooked through.

Garnish with remaining parsley and orange zest. Serve immediately.

*Potatoes are common today but they did not exist in Europe during the Middle Ages.

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