Sea bream: What kind of fish is it? And how do you cook it?

Sea bream is a fish dish that you often find on the menu. It has a nice taste and you can make many dishes with it. You can grill, fry or stew the fish. But sea bream is also very tasty with a sauce. There are countless options for cooking this fish. Read more about this versatile fish below.

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Oriental sea bream with tomato sambal

Chapter 1

What kind of fish is sea bream?

Sea bream is a species of ray-finned fish in the sea sea bream family, also known as gilt-head sea bream. A name that the fish owes to the golden glow it gets when the sun shines on it. The sea bream is a predatory fish with one dorsal fin and one anal fin and can normally reach a length of about 35 cm.

This fish can grow up to 70 cm and weigh up to about 2.5 kg. The fish has an oval body, which is rather high and compressed, relatively small eyes and a row of sharp teeth hidden behind its thick lips.

The best known and most common species of the sea bream are:

  • Sea carp or black sea sea bream
  • Red sea sea bream
  • Gilt-head sea bream

The black sea beam is the most common in the Netherlands. It has a gray body and has a slightly round shape. It has a black spot on its head and a stripe runs from this spot to its tail.

The black sea beam can grow up to 25 cm in length. But it can also grow up to 60 cm and reach the age of 11 years. This fish mainly eats macrofauna (beetles, snails, worms, larvae) and small fish.

Hele dorade
A whole sea bream

Chapter 2

Where is the fish from?

Sea breams live in schools close to the bottom along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the smaller species are mainly found on the French coast. In summer they can even be found in the North Sea where they pick mussels off rocky coasts.

Sea bream is cultivated in large parts of the world, in both fresh and saltwater. In Europe, it’s mainly Greece and Turkey that deal with this. In the Mediterranean they are grown in open cages or in basins on land. The fish also occur naturally there and are supplied all year round.

Chapter 3

How does this fish taste?

Sea bream has a firm, full flavor and is somewhat similar to sea bass. It’s a white fish with a meaty taste and is relatively low in fat. The fish is perfect for grilling, frying and stewing.

Chapter 4

Is sea bream healthy?

Sea bream is a semi-oily fish and is packed with vitamins such as B6 and B12, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids. Vitamin B12 ensures, among other things, a good oxygen supply to the organs and the omega-3 fatty acids help to protect against cardiovascular disease.

Chapter 5

Which wine goes with this fish?

Grilled sea bream is best served with a ripe Chardonnay that has had no or only a short wood aging period. A Chablis or a Pinot Gris also goes well with this fish.

Chapter 6

How to cook sea bream?

You can cook this fish in a pan, in the oven or on the barbecue. It’s also very delicious if you cook it in a salt crust. The taste of the fish is then well preserved. This fish is usually fried with the scales still on the skin.

Spices that go well with sea bream are, for example, flat parsley, coriander, garlic and white onion, rosemary, oregano, thyme, pepper and also lemon. Use fresh herbs for a fuller taste.

How do you clean the fish?

You can ask the fishmonger to remove the scales and organs beforehand, but you can also easily clean the fish yourself.

  • Remove the scales with a paring knife or the blunt side of a knife. Slide the scales off the fish from the tail to the head. Do this under running water so that the scales don’t jump all over the place. You can collect the scales by placing a sieve in the sink.
  • Cut or snip off the dorsal fin.
  • Cut or snip off the bottom fin.
  • Cut or clip off part of the tail fin.
  • Cut open the belly of the sea sea bream without damaging the organs.
  • Remove the organs. Make sure that the bile (a black-green organ) is not damaged, otherwise the fish can no longer be eaten.
  • Also remove the gills. Pull out the gill covers to cut them off. But you can also cut off the fish head completely.
  • Finally, wash the fish thoroughly.

You can cook the fish whole, or you can fillet the fish.

How do you fillet the fish?

If you have the right tools at home, filleting is not complicated at all. Just work with a very sharp fillet knife that cuts both ways. Sea bream is a round fish and can be filleted as follows:

  • Make a diagonal cut behind the head and first fin down.
  • From there, cut perpendicularly across the spine towards the tail.
  • Loosen the fillet with a scraping motion.
  • Repeat with the other side of the fish.
  • Remove any loose bones with fish tweezers.
  • To remove the skin, hold the fillet firmly by the tail side.
  • Insert the knife between skin and fillet.
  • Cut towards the head while keeping the skin taut.

If you prefer a ready-made fillet, ask the fishmonger to fillet the fish for you. You can choose to leave the skin on, so that you can fry the fish on the skin. But you can also buy fish fillets with or without skin in the supermarket.

Doradefilet met vel
Sea bream fillet with skin

Frying it in a pan

If you want to fry sea sea bream, do so at a medium temperature.

  1. Drench the skin of the fish fillets with olive oil.
  2. Season it with coarse sea salt for a delicious crispy crust.
  3. Then heat the pan over medium heat.
  4. Place the fillet skin side down in the pan.
  5. You only have to turn the fish once, let it cook slowly.
  6. After about 5 minutes, the edges of the fish will turn golden brown and the top of the fish will turn glassy white. From that moment the fish is ready.

In the oven

If you want to cook sea sea bream in the oven, do so at a medium temperature.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper and cut the top of the sea sea bream a few times with a knife.
  3. Squeeze a garlic clove and put it in the olive oil.
  4. Season the olive oil with some salt.
  5. Place the fish in a baking dish and coat it well with the olive oil mixture.
  6. Make sure the fish is well coated with olive oil
  7. Cook the fish in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

Grilling on the barbecue

If you are grilling sea bream on the barbecue, make sure that the coals are hot and the fish is at room temperature.

  1. Rinse the fish well and pat it dry with some kitchen paper.
  2. Make four slits in the skin on both sides of the fish.
  3. Then coat the fish with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and finely chopped garlic and rosemary.
  4. Place the fish in a fish grate.
  5. Then grill the fish with regular turning for 10 to 14 minutes.
  6. Grill the fish until it has nice brown spots and the skin has become crispy.

Chapter 7

Recipe: Grilled oriental sea bream with tomato sambal

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Grilled oriental sea bream with tomato sambal

Sea bream topped with a homemade bumbu and a grilled tomato sambal.
Prep time20 minutes
Cooking time10 minutes
Servings: 2 persons
Author: Cultiviz


  • 1 sea bream descaled with skin
  • 1 lime juice
  • pinch salt
  • bumbu
  • 3 shallots
  • 4 lombok peppers seeds removed
  • 5 rawits peppers seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • 100 ml water
  • pinch salt
  • oil

Grilled tomato sambal

  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 2 lombok peppers seeds removed
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1/2 shallot finely chopped
  • 1 stem lemongrass finely chopped and minced
  • 1 tsp ginger finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp natural vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • olive oil
  • sea ​​salt
  • pepper


Preparing sea bream

  • Carve the sea bream diagonally with a knife. Then rub the fish with the lime juice and some salt.

Grilled tomato sambal

  • Prepare the barbecue for direct grilling and rub the grid with some oil.
  • Place the tomatoes and the lomboks on the grid. The lomboks need about 6 minutes and the tomatoes 10 minutes. Remove them and let them cool down.
  • You can then easily remove the outer skin from the tomatoes and lomboks. Remove the burnt parts, but leave some here and there as flavour enhancement. Remove the seeds from the peppers as well. Then finely grind the tomatoes and peppers in a food processor.
  • Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic, shallot, ginger, lemongrass and shrimp paste for about 4 minutes until everything turns brown.
  • Then add the mixture of tomatoes and peppers and cook for another 4 minutes until a thick paste is formed.
  • Finally, add the vinegar and sugar and bring everything to a boil.
  • Let the sambal cool down. You probably have some leftover sambal. You can easily store this in a sealed jar for a few weeks.

Making bumbu

  • Put the shallot, lomboks and rawits in a mortar or food processor and finely grind everything.
  • Heat a frying pan with some oil and fry the bumbu for about 10 minutes. Then add the sweet soy sauce and 100 ml of water and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Place the sea bream in two to three layers of aluminium foil. Make sure the sea bream fits in tightly and fold the edges up a bit. Rub the sea bream on both sides with the bumbu. Don’t forget the inside too.

Grilling sea bream

  • Place the sea bream on the grid and grill for 7 minutes until it turns brown all over. Remove the sea bream from the barbecue and serve it with the tomato sambal.

Chapter 8

All recipes

Looking for more inspiration? Then see below more recipes with halibut. Or check our fish recipes for even more inspiration.

Grilled oriental sea bream with tomato sambal

A simple but tremendously tasty recipe with homemade bumbu and grilled tomato sambal. We give [...]