Loup de Mer – Mediterranean Seabass
Loup De Mer is a fish frequently featured in our dishes at Hai. The European Seabass is another classic fish of Europe, known by a multitude of names. Loup de Mer, its French name, translates to wolf of the sea. In the United States, many restaurants have taken to adopting its Italian moniker – branzino, or branzini in the plural, alternatively spelled bronzino and bronzini. While in Japan it is referred to as Suzuki, just to name a few.
It is mostly a night hunter, feeding on small fish, marine worms, cephalopods, and crustaceans. With monikers like “wolf of the sea,” it should come as no surprise that the Loup de Mer is an aggressive predator, feasting on other fish as adults and on shrimp and other invertebrates as juveniles.
It is an extremely adaptable fish, capable of tolerating temperatures from 41 degrees to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and a wide range of salinity. As a result, Loup de Mer can be found in cold, coastal waters as deep as 320 feet (100 meters), though more often in shallower, inshore waters, estuaries, lagoons and rivers. Loup de Mer can grow to about 3ft in length and can live 14-15 years. Young loup will form schools, but adults seem less gregarious.
Of all the farmed marine species, bass farming is probably the best-mastered technique with mass production starting in the 1960’s. The females, which grow more than the males, reach their sexual maturity at 3 years of age and can lay eggs spontaneously in captivity. By modifying the rearing temperature and the duration of the day, it is possible to make them lay eggs several times throughout the year. Growth takes place in either inland ponds or inside floating cages. “Portion Size” is reached after 2 years of age, but growth can be accelerated by heating the water in farming ponds.