There are many different fish all over the world which come under the name of “bream”. The most common bream fish in Europe are the black, or more widely known as sea bream, and the red bream.
In American waters, porgies and scups can be found. Mediterranean countries have possibly the tastiest of the type, the gilthead bream (sometimes referred to as Royal Bream) which make great bream recipes. In the UK, bream is not as regularly consumed as other fish.
In the UK, the common bream is classified as a freshwater fish, inhabiting muddy waters. Freshwater bream are generally farmed and are relatively inexpensive. However, due to their habitat, they do have a certain muddy flavour, which doesn’t really lend itself to statement dishes. Its mild flavour is not as nice as other bream, such as sea bream, and requires the accompanying ingredients to be strong in flavour.
Sea (or black) bream is an oval shaped, warm water fish, one of the best breams to go for in Britain. It’s plentiful, with a good flavour and can be caught just off the coast. It was once considered fairly rare in UK waters but the water temperatures have risen and it is now a fairly common catch in British and Irish waters during summer. They tend to head for deeper waters in the winter months.
The Mediterranean gilthead bream’s body is a little more elongated than most other bream species. It is thought to be one of the tastiest of the bream fish with a slightly sweeter taste than a sea bass. It is farmed all year round in the Mediterranean. The fish can be cooked in the same way as any other type of bream.
Bream is a popular fish for recreational fishing. If possible, line-caught bream is considered better. Immature fish (those less than 23cm) should be avoided. Bream should ideally not be caught during their spawning season (April and May), while they are a fairly sustainable fish, this gives them time to replenish their numbers. The season for bream fish is usually spring and summer but they can be caught in the winter in deeper water. For large scale bream fishing, gillnets can be placed in the water, capturing the fish as they swim into it. Bream caught by line or gillnet is more sustainable than trawling for the fish, trawling can destroy both nest and eggs and damage the sea floor. In Greece, bream farming is one of the fastest-growing industries. Gilthead bream is farmed on a large scale, especially in Italy.
All types of bream have a coarse, succulent flesh, ideal for grilling, baking and frying. Sea bream can be sold whole and in fillets. A benefit of bream is the relative ease of which it can be cooked whole or in its fillets, simply baked, bream can be delicious. Bream can go very well with accompaniments such as salsa verde, garlic mayonnaise, fennel, and flavoured butter. Many bream recipes may suggest Mediterranean sauces, vegetables and flavours to complement the fish.
Bream Fish Recipes: