Fagri, or sea bream, is one of the most delicious fish for the summer table
By Dinos Kiousis
Three of the four species of Pagrus swim in Greek waters, moving in winter from the deeper water, where they feed on shellfish and small fry, to within 10-30 meters of the shore in the summer.
The common sea bream (“fagri” in Greek) is long; it’s pinkish-red along its back and silver along its sides. The head is a little darker and the fins are rosy.
The other two species in Greek waters are known as the “tenioto,” with a large head and 4-5 vertical stripes, and the “kilidoto,” with blue marks along its back and sides. The larger the fish, the greater the number of marks.
Sea bream can reach one meter in length and weigh over 10 kilos. They are sometimes confused with a similar fish called the “tsaousis,” also known in the market by the name “crowned sea bream,” which is cheaper, although not really lacking anything in flavor by comparison.
The “tsaousis” has a large hump on its forehead and a mauve strip along its sides.
Sea bream are fished in large quantities every year in Greek waters, but imports from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Oman (mainly the “tsaousis”) and Senegal are also available.
Fresh Greek sea bream are sold for about 35 euros a kilo, the “tsaousis” about four euros less.
Fish over four kilos can be sold in fillets and fetch 25-30 euros a kilo. The “tsaousis” from Oman go for about 14 euros per kilo, sea bream from Senegal for about 16 euros a kilo. Sea bream should be grilled, or baked, but never fried.
Oriental sea bream
(Recommended for frozen sea bream or an import from Oman or Senegal)
Ingredients (serves 6)
1 sea bream, cleaned and gutted,
the head removed (about 1.8 kg)
2 tbsp olive oil
For the marinade:
250 ml white wine
1 tsp Tabasco
1 tsp orange marmalade
1 tbsp fresh ginger, roughly grated
or 1 tsp ginger powder
Juice of one lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 level tsp mustard
In a shallow baking dish just big enough for the fish, mix all the marinade ingredients well. Make two parallel, diagonal cuts along both sides of the fish, place it in the marinade and leave for 15-20 minutes on each side.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Remove the fish from the marinade, and set the latter aside in a small saucepan. Salt the fish and place it on a sheet of aluminum baking foil. Close it up tightly, place in another baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes.
Boil the marinade for 10 minutes and use it as a sauce, either for the fish or for a white rice accompaniment.
Baked sea bream with herbs
Ingredients (serves 6)
1 cleaned sea bream (about 2.2 kg with the head)
200 ml white wine
6 tbsp olive oil
15 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp dried chives
1 tsp dried estragon, lightly crushed
1 shallot, finely sliced
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Season the fish well inside and out and place in a baking dish.
Mix the herbs and shallots on a plate and stuff the fish. Place whatever is left over in the dish with the oil and wine.
Bake for about 30 minutes, turning the fish over half-way through the ba