I was very surprised the first time I ran across Loup de Mer at the fish store. They had it labeled as Bronzino which is the Italian name, well one of them the Italians have different names for this fish according to what part of the country you are in. This fish has several names but the way they are marketing it now is Mediterranean or European Seabass. No matter what they call it it is a wonderful fish. It is a fish that needs little adornment, in fact if you were to ask Marcella Hazan she would inform you to simply poach it and serve it with mayonnaise. I can say I have to agree and especially the part about the mayonnaise. —thirschfeld
4 to 6
Mediterranean Seabass, about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each
Before you buy the fish ask the fishmonger if you can smell it, open up the belly flaps and smell and make sure it smells like fresh ocean. Lift the gills and look inside to see they are bright red not goey or brown or worse removed. Look into the eyes and make sure they aren't sunken and cloudy. If these are all a go buy the fish.
About an hour before you want to cook the fish salt it making sure to season the stomach cavity.
Heat the oven to 425 F degrees.
Using a mandolin or a chef's knife (a mandolin makes really short work of this dish) thinly slice the vegetables. Spread them evenly across the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole. Add the bay leaves, enough stock to just cover the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Slide the casserole into the oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile make two small herb bouquets using tarragon, chive and parsley sprigs. Tuck the bouquets along with a slice of lemon into the stomach cavities of the fish.
When the timer goes off remove the vegetables from the oven. Place the fish on top of the vegetables. Place a couple of lemon slices on top of each fish. Return the dish to the oven and set the timer for another 15 minutes.
Again when the timer goes off remove the casserole from the oven. Baste it with the broth from the bottom of the pan then scatter the shrimp around the fish trying to keep them in a single layer. Dab, because dotting isn't enough, the fish with butter. One last time, slide the fish back into the oven for the final 10 minute bake.
Remove the fish from the oven. Top with tarragon and chives, serve with mayonnaise.