Branzino and Orata make delicious fish dishes. They are also very popular here in Italy. Indeed, they are considered something of a delicacy. I recommend you try them.
First of al, do you know what Branzino and Orata are? Well, if you do, you can stop reading now – even if you might like to take a peek – just to be sure.
On the other hand, if you have no idea whatsoever what Branzino and Orata are, then please keep reading. It’ll be worth your while, I assure you.
I love both of them!
The other day I went to a local restaurant with some friends and they tried fish dishes. Two of these friends are not based in Italy, although they have been here a number of times.
Being the friendly type that I am, I attempted to help them decide what to order by explaining what the various dishes on the menu in Italian were. However the words Branzino and Orata caused problems. Actually, the word Orata caused even more problems than Branzino.
Memory Failed me.
Firstly, I could not remember the translation of ‘Orata’, which annoyed me greatly, as I have had Orata numerous times. Branzino is ‘Seabass’, in case you were wondering, and both Branzino and Orata are types of fish.
Translation Was No Help!
After having failed on the Orata translation front, I think I messed up the translation of Branzino too – and I said it was sea bream. It is not: Branzino is sea bass.
Despite doing my best to confuse my foreign friends Jessica and Chris, I know that they have been to Italy on at least three occasions so far, and I know too that they have had a good wander around Italy as well and have tried lots of Italian fish dishes. For some reason though, they had not eaten Branzino and Orata before. Or rather, they had seen them on menus, but had had no idea what they were, and had steered well clear of them, again, as you do. Such a shame, because Branzino and Orata are very highly regarded in Italy and are very tasty too.
Put Down That Dictionary!
Now, before you go lunging for that dictionary, don’t. If you have picked it up, put the thing down – now! Don’t worry what the translation of Orata is – it is actually Gilthead (Thanks Mr Plotkin!). Actually, you may well be non the wiser for knowing. There’s a much, much better way. Just go and taste it!
After having sampled both Orata and Branzino, I think you may well find that ‘Orata’ and ‘Branzino’ will become a part of your Italian influenced vocabulary – along with the likes of ‘pasta’, ‘lasagne’, and ‘spaghetti’.
Remember, Branzino and Orata. Note that ‘Branzino’ is also known as ‘spigola’ or ‘ragno’ in other parts of Italy according to Wikipedia.
Now that Jessica and Chris know that Branzino is Sea bass, and that Orata (Gilthead) tastes pretty good, I imagine they will try these two fish another time.
The next time you are in Italy, either on holiday or on business, if you see Branzino/spigola/ragno next to the word ‘sale‘ – salt – on a menu, order it. Similarly, should you notice ‘Orata’ close to the word ‘griglia‘ – grilled, do not hesitate for a nano second – point at the words on the menu and say ‘Questo’. Indeed, any fish dishes mentioning the words branzino or orata are well worth trying.
Honestly, whether you are fan of fish dishes or not, I very much doubt that you will regret your decision.
If you stick to pasta and pizza while you are in Italy, you will miss out on a lot, believe me.
Orata photo by Alex Roe.