How to cook small bream
  |  First Published: July 2004

THERE isn’t a lot of flesh on the fillet of a ‘just legal’ bream, but there are some beautiful and enjoyable locations that teem with these smaller fish. To get a decent feed you could opt to keep heaps of fish, but there’s a better way. The following is a very simple way to cook small bream which enables you to take advantage of every morsel of flesh on the fish. This recipe is great campfire fodder.


The best way to get the most flesh out of a small fish is to BBQ it in its own skin, complete with scales. When you cook the fish this way, the scales perform a similar role to alfoil. The bream steams in its own juices and the resulting flavour is just wonderful. This would easily be one of the most basic fish recipes you will ever prepare.


• Gut and gill the bream, taking care to remove the blood from along the backbone.

• Stuff the gut cavity with a thick slice of lemon. This keeps the flesh moist, and as the fish cooks the lemon slices caramelise (turn brown). When squeezed over the fish while you are eating, the caramelised slices of lemon impart a rich, sugary, lemony flavour to the fish.

• Place the whole, prepared fish into a frypan that’s big enough to allow you to turn the fish over easily. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish. Take care not to overcook. Please be aware, seafood will continue to cook for a little while after being removed from the heat.

• Turn the fish over to cook on the other side, taking care not to tear the skin with its protective scales. Cook on the other side until the flesh in the thickest part of the fish is just starting to flake, when tested with a thin knife blade.

• Carefully remove the fish from the heat and gently peel the skin away on one side. Remove the flesh from one side and place on a serving platter. Repeat with the other side.

This might sound like a lot of fuss for a very simple recipe, but the flavour is fresh and wonderful.

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