Son By Another Mother | Whole Branzino Roasted in Salt


He is a friend to my mind.Oprah

I never thought much about a son-in-law until I got one.

We were deep into our small town life as usual when Ben Weprin showed. He and our daughter Mary Ann had a friendly connection in college and her stories of him were full of the same dynamic energy that she always offered our household.

Something was afoot; but, D and I discuss such things off camera.

In the ways that count, Ben is a proper sort. One day he visited D’s office and then paid a like trip to my kitchen and announced his intentions.

Embedded in my heart is the thing that he said, “I really LIKE Mary Ann.” That’s the ticket, I thought.

At the rehearsal dinner assurances were made – “This family doesn’t need help, but I’m gonna help them,” he said.

One of our first Christmas Eve dinners together a la fresh sea food extravaganza in land locked Columbia, Tennessee still shines. We received a special delivery from a fairly new industry and registered it as unforgettably exclusive.

Ben seemed as open minded as the sky. Curious and imaginative, I thought he might see D and me as an answer to a question. And really from the beginning, we considered him to be the missing piece on our way to a fuller existence.

Years into their journey, I now consider the riches spawned by a mix of cultures. Their families are made up of different religions and different environments and unconsciously we all must have craved the depth of contrast.

What I loved from the beginning is that Ben is primed for new targets. I found out that his generative way of being is intrinsic as the air he breaths. More to the point, for him no task which promotes beauty is without merit.

When my daughter first doubted his aplomb, Ben’s mother Ellen said….oh, you don’t yet know Ben. And yes, it was true that he was fearless, a handy trait in business and in life.

He is also a sublime host. With enterprising abilities to advertise the forgotten or unsung, he can highlight the quirky; binding an audience to a destination. Visit Graduate Hotels here.

Longfellow said, “The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.” Ben has the lens to discern those stars at any given time. As a grandmother to his three children, I am heartened that there is no viewpoint to model that is more serviceable for the action packed world to come.


Whole Branzino Roasted in Salt

The french call it loud de mer and the italians call it branzino, but it’s the same fish – mediterranean sea bass.

In the fall of 2010, D and I journeyed to Chicago where a welcome party awaited. Ben and Mary Ann had discovered a favored fish market where they learned to stir the pot and experience something new. Visit Dirk’s Fish here.

1 3-pound box coarse kosher salt
5 large egg whites (or more)
2 2 to 2/ 1/4 pound whole branzino or sea bass gutted
8 fresh parsley sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
lemon slices

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir salt and 5 egg whites in large bowl, adding more egg whites as needed to form grainy paste. Press 1/4 inch layer of salt mixture onto large rimmed baking sheet. Stuff cavity of each whole fish with half of herb sprigs and lemon slices. Place fish atop salt mixture on baking sheet. Pack remaining salt mixture over fish to enclose completely. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of fish registers 135 F about 20 minutes. Let stand 20 minutes.

In addition, I’ll say that a homemade salsa verde would be icing on the fish cake (so to speak).

Take this:
1 lemon
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced cucumber
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons drained small capers
2 tablespoons sliced pitted brine-cured green olives
3 cups arugula
Using small sharp knife, remove peel and white pith from lemon. Working over bowl, cut between membranes to release segments. Cut each segment into 3 pieces. Add lemon pieces and next 6 ingredients to bowl.

Using back of large spoon, gently crack open salt crust on fish. Lift and discard salt layer. Pull skin from top of 1 fish. Carefully lift top fillet from bones and transfer to plate. Lift and scared bones. Gently lift second fillet from skin and transfer to second plate. Repeat with second fish for a total of 4 plates.

Spoon salsa verde over fish, leaving juices in bowl. Add arugula to bowl; toss to coat. Divide among plates.

Share this Post