Stuffed Branzino with Walnuts and Pomegranate

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 25 min (includes marinating time)
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
This recipe is a nod to the Persian dish mahi shekam por (“stuffed fish”), which has many variations. Here we marinate branzino -- a mild, almost sweet fish with a tender flesh that takes well to roasting whole-- with turmeric and lemon juice. It is then roasted unfilled. After it is cooked, we stuff the interior with a tasty walnut and pomegranate filling. Stuffing the fish after roasting keeps the filling fresh and bright!






  1. For the fish: Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut 3 slits, spaced evenly apart, through the skin and flesh of each branzino on both sides. Pat dry and place on the prepared baking sheet. Mix the olive oil with the onion powder, turmeric, garlic, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper; rub all over each branzino, inside and outside. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Uncover the fish and roast until fully cooked, about 30 minutes. The cooked fish will have white flesh that flakes easily.
  5. For the filling: Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and bell peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the walnuts, barberries, oregano, sumac, cayenne, scallions and 1 teaspoon salt. Give the mixture a good stir, reduce the heat to medium low then add the pomegranate molasses. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries start to hydrate a bit and everything is well combined and coated, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  6. Stuff the filling into the fish and top with any extra filling, the pomegranate seeds, parsley and lemon slices.

Cook’s Note

You can serve this dish with sabzi polo (Persian herbed rice) or roasted potatoes.