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Have you ever wondered what the differences are between sea bass vs. branzino? There is confusion in the nomenclature of these fish as they’re incredibly popular due to their taste and texture.
In this post, the differences between sea bass vs. branzino will be discussed based on origin, appearance, texture, and taste, as well as preparation methods, culinary uses, and pricing.
Naming of Sea Bass vs. Branzino
Branzino, also known as Mediterranean sea bass, Italian sea bass, and loup de mer, is often found in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. This is because its produce comes from Turkish and Greek farms. Branzino has a vast following of culinary admirers, and it’s famous for its everyday use in European, North African, and Asian cuisines. However, Italian cuisine is the one that made branzino so popular. Branzino is a type of sea bass found in several bodies of water around the globe.
The nomenclature of sea bass is usually applied to fish that share similar attributes from the family of Serranidae. Sea bass is found primarily in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Mediterranean sea between 50-500 ft below the ocean’s surface. It can also be found in lakes and rivers.
Geographic Origins and Availability of the Taxonomy of Sea Bass
The most prominent types of sea bass are European sea bass, Asian sea bass, Chilean sea bass, striped bass, and hybrid striped bass.
European Sea Bass
European sea bass is a silvery gray fish that’s easily available in the European and North African coastal regions. It is often farmed in Greece and Turkey as it’s pretty popular. The European Sea Bass’ Italian name is branzino, and this name is often used in Northern American restaurants too.
Asian Sea Bass
Asian sea bass, also called Barramundi, is often seen in Southeast Asia and Australia.
Chilean Sea Bass
Chilean sea bass, also known as Patagonian toothfish, is a deep-water fish, neither Chilean nor a sea bass. It’s just related to the Antarctic sea bass. Although it has a high popularity, its fishing properties are quite questionable.
Striped Sea bass
Striped sea bass, named after its dark stripes, are often spotted on the east coast of the US and North America.
Hybrid Striped Bass
Hybrid striped bass shares similar characteristics with white bass and striped sea bass. It’s usually farmed and raised in freshwater ponds.
Branzino, also known as “temperate bass” or European bass, is a part of the Moronidae family. It is a mild white fish that thrives in the Mediterranean sea. As a migratory species, it travels south for warmer waters during the winter. It’s a night-hunting fish that grows up to 3 pounds. However, the most commonly sold branzino is about 1-2 pounds.
Sea bass is rich in omega-3 oils and has a mild flavor. According to the FDA, it also has 54 mg of sodium/serving, which equals only 2% of the daily recommended amount. Therefore, sea bass is a good choice for those who avoid certain foods due to high blood pressure and other health conditions.
Branzino is low in calories, protein- and omega-3 fatty rich, so it’s a great option for anyone who’s on a weight loss diet as it reduces inflammation in the body and helps lower LDL cholesterol levels. It’s quite beneficial for people with diabetes or heart problems.
Taste and Texture
Branzino, aka Wolf of the Sea or Loup de Mer, is tender and firm. It’s a white, flakey, but also buttery fish. Some people describe branzino as sweet and meaty. It is a light fish, so it goes well with all ingredients, from Southeast Asian chilis and lemongrass to classic Mediterranean fennel and tomatoes.
Sea bass is a wonderful fish that has a mild flavor. It’s flakey, white flesh and can be fairly expensive. However, it’s readily available and farms beautifully.
Branzino and Chilean sea bass aren’t comparable in either taste or texture as branzino can soak in all the flavors, is light, and can be served as a whole, while Chilean sea bass is thick and has a meaty texture.
Culinary Uses and Preparation Methods
There are different culinary uses for sea bass and branzino. For example, sea bass requires a unique method to fillet it:
How to Cook Sea Bass
To fillet a seabass, you need a plastic board and a wet cloth underneath. Sea bass’s top bones are spiky, so you need to cut these off and remove the fins. The cut should be behind the neck and go all the way through. Its’ rib cage is quite different from a salmon’s, as it’s much broader. Use long and slow movements, without any sort of pressure, down the spine, and then use the tip of the knife to take it to the central spine. Stick the knife through, hold it to the bone, and flip it straight to the bottom.
Using this technique, there isn’t going to be any waste. If there are any little ribs or bones left, you can trim these off. Do little scores along the fillet about half a centimeter thick. These cuts will give your fillet a lovely visual appearance and allow you to stuff it with herbs and seasoning.
Sea bass can be steamed, roasted, pan-roasted, or pan-fried. If you pan-fry skin-side-down sea bass, cook each side for about 4 minutes, so it goes super crispy!
On the other hand, branzino is small, so it’s often cooked whole.
How to Cook Branzino
Branzino has small bones, so you can cook it whole by steaming, grilling, and baking. Cut slits into both sides, stuff it with herbs and lemon, and bake it at 325 F for about 30 minutes. Then, let it rest for 5 minutes before serving. If you’re steaming branzino, add freshly squeezed lemon and herbs.
You can also bake branzino as a whole in a traditional salt crust. As a small fish, it can be flaked into small chunks for pasta, stews, casseroles, and other one-pot dishes.
Greek Style Branzino
As it has a delicate flavor, it does not require an effort to taste amazing! You only need extra virgin olive oil, lemon, onion, tomatoes, dill, and ladolemono dressing (Olive Oil mixed with lemon juice, garlic, and oregano).
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A farmed branzino (1lb) sourced from Greece costs about $12.99. Due to overfishing, the population has declined over the years, so fisheries have taken to farm-raising branzino.
A black sea bass (approximately 2lbs), wild-caught from the Atlantic Ocean, costs about $31.99.
A farmed hybrid striped bass (approximately 2-3 lbs) from California and Louisiana costs about $38.99.
By comparing sea bass and branzino, this article concluded that they share many similarities in terms of characteristics. Sea bass is a generic term used to refer to numerous types of fish found worldwide, while branzino is a type of sea bass limited to the Mediterranean and Black sea.
If you’re ordering a sea bass, be mindful if it’s been caught in North America; otherwise, it’s a farmed branzino.