Something's Burning

A Recipe: Roasted Branzino And Schoolyard Carrots

A little herb and spice for a meal that tastes really nice.


Something's Burning is a recipe column catering to the inexperienced, the idle, and the hungry. Enjoy one recipe per month along with my attempt to tackle it.

Hi there, July. My terrace tomatoes are finally blushing, and the oozing trash bags piled high on the sidewalks here in Brooklyn are gifting us all a delectable aroma. There's a pair of Tevas waiting in my digital shopping cart. It must be summertime.

My good friend and old college roommate Paulo (he asked to be referred to as DJ Himogen Beep in this column) offered a hand this time with a midsummer recipe. Paulo is a line cook at a restaurant in Queens. You’re getting a two-for-one this month: a grilled branzino paired with Paulo’s “Schoolyard Carrots”. Together, they’re a refreshing combination (not unlike us and our pals in our Bronx apartment back in the fall of 2019) and would go well with a light, crisp bev (like a dry cider or white wine, rather than the chocolate milk we regrettably sprung for on this day).

Branzino is a white ocean fish found in the Mediterranean Sea, and carrots are a long orange vegetable found in the dirt. With a little faith and moderate effort, you can transform these previously mundane resources into a delectable summer meal. And that’s exactly what Paulo did, as I contributed by looking on and getting in the way. The “chimichurri” (in quotes because it’s not technically an accurate chimichurri, according to a source in the biz) was improvised last minute as an add-on with ingredients we had lying around. It worked well but isn’t a mandatory addition.

“With a little faith and moderate effort, you can transform these previously mundane resources into a delectable summer meal.”

As we ate, he told me about a recent successful online date, and I told him about how my hypertrophic facial scar is healing (getting there). He quoted a friend of his who once used the following line on a lover: My life is punctuated by the times I see you. And we made up a better version: My life is punctuated by the times I share a whole fish with a good friend.

Best consumed outside in the balmy evening air. Good company can’t hurt. Till next time…

Roasted Branzino

1 Branzino

3 slices of lemon

Coupla’ cloves garlic

Bit of parsley

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Pull Branzino from the fridge about an hour beforehand, season with salt and pepper, and allow it to temper on a rack. After an hour, pat dry, and brush with high heat oil (grapeseed or canola). Add aromatics to the cavity (this is a good time to caress the fish, notice the stunning, iridescent details of nature’s creation, and give the slimy dead eye an affectionate poke). Place in the oven for 15 —18 minutes, depending on the size of your branzino. Once cooked, place under the broiler on high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and blistered.

Schoolyard Carrots

1 to 2 “horse” carrots

¼ cup unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp sliced chives

½ lemon juiced

Salt & pepper to taste

Start by peeling your carrots, then halving them lengthwise. Slice into half moons about 2 to 4 mm thick, either taking this opportunity to practice your knife skills or by using a mandolin. Boil water in a stock pot, add carrots, and cook until soft but still have a bite, maybe 1 to 2 minutes. In the meantime, in a sauce pot, melt butter and add the minced garlic (it should become fragrant but not take on any color). Strain the carrots, reserving some of the water from the cooking process (about a cup). Add the carrots to the pot and stir while gradually adding the carrot water. The goal is to create a nice glaze, thick enough to coat the carrots but thin enough to be saucy. Add chives,parsley, and the juice of half a lemon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Improvised “Chimichurri”

1 clove minced garlic

½ cup chiffonade parsley

½ of a lemon zested

¼ cup olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

½ lemon juiced

Salt & pepper to taste

Chiffonade parsley, zest lemon (we did a lemon peel julienne because it looks cute and we had no zester).

Add oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Allow to sit for a bit for flavors to combine.

Tried them out? Got a recipe?

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