What Is Dorade/Sea Bream?

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Key Takeaways

  • Dorade otherwise known as the gilt headed sea bream is a small, low vulnerability medium-sized saltwater fish that’s treasured for its tender white flesh with low oiliness and mild sweet flavor that holds up well to high-temperature cooking without losing its form. Most consider dorade to be one of the best tasting varieties of fish available despite it remaining affordable at the same time. It’s one of those types of fish that when fileted, it is enjoyed by even those who aren’t typically fond of the taste of fish. 

The dorade is a fish that is known by many names but ultimately is classified and termed a gilt headed sea bream. It is fish filled with so much flavor that countless foodies hunt it down fervently as their ultimate favorite. If you haven’t yet tried it, do yourself a favor and try sea bream as soon as possible. Between its mild flavor and large and firm but tender flesh, there are few types of white fish that can compare. 

Dorade/Sea Bream Overview

Size7.8-27.5 Inches – Typically 8-12 Inches | Minimum Size – 7.87 Centimeters
Weight1-20 Pounds
FlavorSweet Mildly Fishy Clean Taste
Flake SizeMedium

What Is Dorade Royale?

Dorade Royale is the French term used in the US for a gilded head sea bream carrying the scientific name ‘Sparus aurata,’ which is most often simply referred to as a ‘Dorade’ or ‘Sea Bream.’ The saltwater species dorade is a farmed variety of Mediterranean fish that’s treasured for its tender white flesh and gorgeous shining silver skin. Not all commercial sea bream originate in the Med, which impacts the quality of the fish. 

Dorade Pronunciation

The pronunciation of ‘Dorade’ is often confused for the same sound used when pronouncing the Spanish name of a sea bream, ‘Dorado.’ One pronounces dorade as it is spelled, which translates to a spoken word that sounds like ‘door aid’ and not ‘de raid.’

Dorade/Sea Bream Alternate Names

Dorade is such a popular variety of fish that it’s famously known all around the world. Although the common terms such as sea bream and dorade royale have been covered, here are some of the other familiar regional terms you’ll find in use:

  • Albanian – Koce, Kocja, Ullorja
  • Spanish – Dorada, Dourada, Dorada Del Pacifico, Orada
  • French – Dorade Royale, Laurata, Urata
  • Dutch – Goud Brasem
  • German – Gemeine Goldbrasse, Goldbrasse, Goldkopf
  • Greek – Tsipoura
  • Italian – Orata, Arata , Aurat, Aurata, Aurate
  • Japanese – Kichinu
  • Portuguese – Dourado, Dourada, Douradinha, Safata
  • Latin – Sparus aurata
  • Serbian – Ovrata
  • Swedish – Guldbraxen, Guldsparid
  • Tagalog – Kanuping
  • New Zealand – Tamure
  • English – Gilt-Head Bream, Gilt-Head Seabream, Silver Seabream, Sea Bream, Gilthead, Snapper

Dorade Fish/Sea Bream Origin

One of the earliest mentions of the gilt-head bream is by Linnaeus in 1758. The species was first discovered in the Mediterranean inclusive of the Black Sea and up to the Gibraltar Strait. Today, sparus auratus is found across the eastern Atlantic coast.

What Type Of Fish Is Sea Bream?

The Dorade is a member of the Actinopterygii class of fish, otherwise understood as the ray-finned fishes. It is of the order Perciformes, which translates to “perch like,” of which 41% of all bony fish are members. The gilthead sea bream species is specifically of the Sparidae family, which derives its name from the Latin term “sparu,” translating to spear, an indication of the spear-like shape of the fish which glitters in the water similarly to an archaic silvery spear tip. Sparus aurata furthermore clarifies the species name according to its description with the Latin word “auratus,” meaning golden, which is a reference to the golden or yellow band found between the eyes of this highly sought-after fish.

Dorade Types

There are four different types of dorade. Each is classified according to the color tone of its flesh. There are gray, pink, marble, and royal dorade available. Gray, pink and marbled pink are self-explanatory colorings, and royale dorade defines sea bream with snow white flesh. Most localities keep a single variety of dorade whereas, in areas where it’s popular like France, you’ll find all types available. gray, pink, marble, and royal.

Dorade Appearance

Dorade is a medium-sized fish with thick silvery skin that’s thicker than most fish its size. All types of dorade carry a similar exterior appearance and have the same distinct golden band across their forehead. Sea bream are instantly recognizable by this yellow to gold colored strip that resembles an arc above their eyes. 

Dorade Diet

The dorade species is famous for being highly adaptable. Their opportunistic predatory nature makes them capable of surviving in a range of environments which is why many scientific bodies monitor the ecological impact of escapees from sea bream farms. Gilt-head seabream survive on gastropods, bivalves, and undersea vegetation. 

How Big Do Dorade Get?

A male that has just reached sexual maturity at approximately two years old measures between 7.8 and 12 inches, whereas a mature female at two to three years old is around 13 to 15.8-inches. At their largest, dorade reach roughly 27.5 inches in length and weigh just over 13 pounds. Global commercial fishing limits typically place the minimum catch size of dorade at 7.87 inches or 20 centimeters. Adult dorade can weigh up to 20 pounds at a maximum although the average weight one can expect to find in most markets is 1 pound per fish.

Dorade Lifespan

Dorade have been found as old as eleven years old whilst living in the wild. Fish farms most often harvest dorade when they weigh as little as one pound which is around fourteen months old. That’s about halfway to sexual maturity and just before what one could consider a bream’s “teens.”  

Dorade Reproduction

As a protandric hermaphrodite species of fish, the male bream become females at roughly three years old. There are several other recognizable species that exhibit this trait, including clown fish and groupers. Dorade spend the first year, or two maturing and then reverse sex just after reaching sexual maturity at two years of age. This ensures a balanced sex ratio in the wild. This ratio is maintained using a span of social and hormonal control measures in fish farms. 

As batch spawners, sea bream lay roughly 20,000 to 80,000 eggs per day over a period that can last up to four months. Eggs incubate for roughly 48 hours and spawn at approximately 1 mm thin, with larval length reaching roughly 3 mm at hatching point. Dorade spend roughly fifty days in the larval stage, which can be longer if the water temperature is too low. Cold water is lethal to young sea bream during both the larval and juvenile stages. Juvenile sea bream stay in shallow water that’s typically no deeper than 12 inches.

Dorade Mercury Level

Yellow sea bream carries such a low consideration of mercury and/or methylmercury that it’s generally never a consideration for pregnant women and those who eat seafood often. At an average of 0.03 mg per kilogram, dorade contains a fraction of the mercury in fish like bluefin tuna at 1.305 mg per kilogram, striped marlin at 0.595 mg per kilogram, or even rainbow trout at 0.136 mg per kilogram.

Dorade/Sea Bream Population / Vulnerability

In 2005, Sparus aurata was assessed by Cheung, W.W.L., T.J. Pitcher, and D. Pauly using fuzzy logic systems to estimate extinction vulnerabilities of various marine species and determined to be at moderate vulnerability of extinction. The total aquaculture production for gilthead seabream in 2005 reached approximately 44,685 tonnes

By 2019, global aquaculture production was estimated at roughly 120 million tonnes. Whilst this does not give an indication of the fishing in the wild, it does show how the demand has risen exponentially. Given the current state of commercial fishing and the last vulnerability assessment’s date of over fifteen years ago, it should be clear that a new vulnerability assessment for dorade is long overdue. With this being said, dorade is still at low risk of extinction, making it one of the more sustainable varieties of commercially harvested fish. 

Where & How Sea Bream Is Caught

Mediterranean countries are where you’ll find the greatest dorade aquaculture found. However, Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina also have significant gilthead sea bream production. The majority of bream are farmed by means of larval spawns in sea cages within warm locations like the Messolonghi Lagoon in Greece and Malostonski Bay, to name but two examples of ideal locales.

Dorade Fish Taste

Given the popularity, versatility, and consequent global demand, many consider dorade to be the best-tasting saltwater fish. It is undoubtedly the tastiest fish from those in the Sparid family. Sea bream is mildly fish with a moderate degree of oiliness, little to no aftertaste, and snow white fatty flesh with medium to large-sized tender but firm flakes. The basic sea bream taste is free from taste or textural contrasts that are off putting in any way. Even those who are adverse to most fish typically enjoy the clean, fresh flavor of sea bream. 

Fish Taste Chart

Here are the flavors of popular varieties of fish displayed as a chart so that you can better place the taste of dorade:

Light FlavorTilapia,  Flounder, Walleye, Lake Perch, Crappie, Grouper
Mild Sweet FlavorDorade, Red Snapper, Catfish, Branzini, Shad, Rainbow Trout
Mild Neutral FlavorCod, Pollock, Halibut, Hake, Haddock, Yellowtail
Rich Bold FlavorTuna, Mahi Mahi, Sea Bass, Black Cod, Bonito, Sole
Full Fishy FlavorHerring, Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon, Arctic Char

What is Dorade Fish Similar To?

The flavor of dorade is most similar to pompano or red snapper, just without the same degree of oiliness. Dorade and snapper are even similar in appearance other than the red coloring and larger size of snapper. Sea bream’s flavor is best described as a midway point between the large, meaty flakes of cod and the succulent flesh of snapper.

How Do You Eat Dorade Fish?

The most popular serving suggestion is baked sea bream. While many enjoy a marinade, others prefer dorade lightly seasoned and baked in foil as-is atop the coals of a fire or charcoal embers. Pan-fried sea bream is just as popular, with most chefs serving up the whole fish inclusive of its head instead of filets alone. Very few restaurants dorade but battered, crumbed, baked, or roasted filets are filled with flavor and offer the perfect texture for easy eating. The flesh is so tender that we suggest trying dorade in a variety of different ways. From fried fish to traditional Mexican tacos de pescado, sea bream is endlessly versatile and always ends up coming out great no matter how it’s prepared or served. 

Do You Eat The Skin Of Sea Bream?

If the skin has been properly scaled and thoroughly cleaned to ensure that all sand deposits have been washed away, then, yes, dorade skin is perfectly edible. Not only is sea bream skin high in omega 3 fatty acids, but it tastes great. The vast majority of chefs serving up this tasty fish whole will have made sure that its skin is ready for eating. 

How Do I Make My Sea Bream Skin Crispy?

Any fish with thick skin retains a lot of moisture. To counteract the exact liquid, salt the skin of your dorade liberally using sea salt crystals. Refined salt will work too but often ends up penetrating the skin and making it salty, so be sure to use less seasoning when cooking if resorting to table salt. Allow the salted fish to stand uncovered on a  plate inside the fridge for ten minutes. Remove from the fridge. Drain the water. Place onto a dry plate lined with a paper towel and then let it stand for another ten minutes. Scrape off the salt and run the fish dry using a paper towel. Now that it’s been thoroughly dried, roasting, grilling, baking, or frying is sure to crisp up the skin.

What Do You Eat Sea Bream With?

The fresh, clean taste and delicate flesh of sea bream suits the taste of lemon well. Many chefs recommend serving dorade with lemon butter or a similar citrus-based sauce. It pairs nicely with a bed of plain rice, rice salad, or rice pilaf while also suiting simple salads to perfection. Gordon Ramsay, on his hit show ‘The F Word’, suggests serving bream on a bed of braised baby onions, bacon bits, basil, and green peas cooked together. Keep the flavors bright, and you can serve bream with a host of different sides. It is very versatile. 

What Wine Goes Well With Sea Bream?

Although largely a matter of personal preference, white wine is generally the best pairing for sea bream. We’d recommend a fruity, fresh, high-acidity wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Albariño, or even something like Pinot Blanc or any good Grand Gru for those who prefer dry wines.

How To Cook Dorade

There are countless ways to cook dorade, but the delicate flesh combined with sea bream’s thick skin makes it well suited to roasting, baking, and grilling. For the prime serving suggestion, we suggest roasting over the coals of an open fire or using a glass grill. Scale, gut, and clean the bream and then rub the outside of the dorade with olive or cooking oil. Seasoning with salt and pepper, ensuring that you coat the inner cavity where the guts came out well and both (skin) sides of the fish. 

Stuff the fish with three to four lemon slices and fresh parsley. At this point, you can also add any other fresh herbs, such as a sprig of rosemary, marjoram, or thyme. This is also when you add chopped garlic if so preferred. Cover the grill of your barbecue with an extra large sheet of aluminum foil. Place the fish atop the foil and score it by cutting three diagonal slits across its body on one side. Grill for 10 minutes before turning and grilling for a further 10 to 12 minutes, and your dorade is ready to eat. 

Tips For Cooking Dorade

Almost every popular dorade fish recipe you’ll find includes citrus in some form. Citrus fruits like lemon, limes, and oranges all suit the succulency and light, clean fishy taste of sea bream to perfection. Garlic is another popular addition, especially for baked bream dishes, which call for something strong to counterbalance the sweetness of the flesh. Pungent herbs like dill, mint, and tarragon are all well-suited to baked or roasted dorade for the same reason. 

Whenever you’re scoring a fish, make the incisions deep enough for stuffing. Insert a lemon slice or wedge depending on the size of the fish and perhaps the same herbs used inside. Anyone who enjoys eating the flesh of the tail should cover it with lemon slices to prevent it from drying out and burning, as is most often the case when cooking a whole sea bream over a fire’s coals or a fiery hot gas grill. 

Dorade Fish Frozen Shelf Life

Dorade fish can last fileted or whole for up to 18 months if deep frozen. Shops selling frozen sea bream will keep their fish for up to a year and a half but defrosting at all more than halves the shelf life. As a general rule of thumb and for food safety’s sake so that no one gets sick, always cook fish immediately after defrosting. Don’t refreeze.

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