Long Live the King… of Mediterranean Fish!

Kranios Me Ntomata Greek Stone Bass Cherry Tomatoes
Kranios Me Ntomata (Greek Stone Bass with Cherry Tomatoes)

June is upon us – the beginning of summer, summer produce, and lighter menu offerings for dining on those hot summer days. As the indulgent braises and warming soups come off the menu, there’s a new fish species arriving in America with the culinary versatility to appear on every section of the menu… Kranios!


Chef Maria Loi
Chef Loi with fresh Kranios-Greek Stone Bass

A Rose by Any Other Name…

The latin name for this fish is Argyrosomus regius, which translates to ‘Silver-bodied King,’ indeed describing this incredible, regal fish.  Depending on what country you’re in, it may be called Stone Bass, Greek Stone Bass, Kranios, or Greek Kranios.

An ancient species found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, Kranios/Greek Stone Bass has been a highly prized wild fish for centuries.  As a result of its larger size, incredible taste, and forgiving musculature, it became so over-fished that it was brought to the brink of extinction.  However, thanks to sustainable aquaculture, this species has been carefully cultivated and brought back to life!


Once Upon a Time…

When I was working as a jet-setting lobbyist, I was privy to dining at the finest restaurants, on the most incredible delicacies from around the world. I remember dining at Dourabeis Restaurant in Piraeus, Greece, known for having the best of the best fish from the sea.  It was, and is one of my favorite restaurants in the world because of the clean, authentic food and genuine people.

At the time, the father of the Dourabeis family would call my colleagues and I whenever he had Greek Stone Bass (which he called Kranios, or more often ‘the Minoan king’), and leave a simple message at our office, “the king is here, come in!”  As soon as we received the message, we knew he had a table waiting for us, and would all rush over to experience this epicurean delight.

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Not much else was needed for a perfect meal – or wanted, for that matter – just a Dourabeis salad and the king!

But, over time, we received that special call less and less frequently, because the fish became less and less available.  Though we continuing to dine at Dourabeis regularly, ‘the king’ did not appear often at all.  When I asked about it, I was sadly informed it was no longer available – it couldn’t be found in the market anymore due to overfishing.

Many years have since passed… But then, two summers ago while filming at Selonda Bay for my show, THE LIFE OF LOI (PBS), Kranios/Greek Stone Bass and I were reunited!


Kranios Greek Stone Bass and Asparagus
Kranios Greek Stone Bass and Asparagus

The Turtle and the… Greek Stone Bass?

While on a break during filming, I took a stroll down to the sea, and happened upon a baby turtle struggling on the shore.  I felt badly, as I wanted to help it, but was unsure how, so I turned to call for someone… Much to my surprise, two workers from Avramar were headed in my direction with a large bucket in hand.  I was unclear on why they were coming towards me, and planned to point out the poor, helpless turtle to them, only to learn that the bucket was actually for the little turtle.  They filled it up with seawater, gently placed the turtle in the bucket, and returned from whence they came.

The next morning, before filming started, I was enjoying my coffee and saw these same two men with the same bucket returning to the shore.  I followed them down the path, and watched them carefully return an energized baby turtle to the sea.

I asked them about the turtle, how they knew what to do, and why they helped this little creature – if it was a policy of Avramar’s.  They both replied that though it is not an official policy of Avramar, it is the mentality of the company – to care about all creatures of the sea, wild or farmed – and moreover, it’s their joy and pleasure to do so.  They said this is how we live, this is Avramar.

This was a meaningful and striking conversation for me, and so I asked what Avramar has been doing and what’s new in the aquaculture world.  They said they have successfully been cultivating an ancient species that became severely overfished, so I asked if I could see it….and lo and behold, there it was, my special fish, Kranios/Greek Stone Bass!


Kranios Greek Stone Bass Ceviche with Green Bell Pepper Red Onion Dill and Capers
Kranios Greek Stone Bass Ceviche with Green Bell Pepper, Red Onion, Dill and Capers

The King Reigns Supreme

My love for Kranios/Greek Stone Bass has lived on for many years, not only because it’s absolutely delicious, but because when it comes to culinary versatility, few – if any – fish can compete!

From a nutritional perspective, the lean, white meat fish is full of Omega-3 fatty acids and high quality, essential proteins – just as many as the same portion of salmon will provide – but with very low mercury levels, because it is responsibly and sustainably farmed.

From a culinary perspective, Kranios/Greek Stone Bass is unbelievably flexible: it’s fantastic for raw preparations like ceviche and tartare, hearty enough to be grilled or roasted, and delicate enough to be poached, seared, or steamed.  The thick-yet-light flake structure, and mildly sweet, lightly briny flavor reminiscent of an ocean breeze pair perfectly with any and every ingredient you can imagine.

This fish can stand up to a bold, spicy sauce or a piquant red wine, enhance the subtle notes of an herbaceous infusion or elegantly layered white wine, or shine on its own when lightly seasoned and dressed with lemon and olive oil.

No matter how you choose to use it, this fish is sure to be a star in any dish, on any menu.

And They Lived Happily Ever After…Thanks to Sustainable Aquaculture

With the growing issues in global food supply, it’s more important than ever to look to alternative, healthy, sustainable food sources.  We must look to the sea for the future of the food chain, and through aquaculture, we can feed millions of people sustainably.

We need companies whose ethos is to work in harmony with nature, to consistently deliver responsibly and sustainably produced fresh farmed fish, like Avramar, the leader in Mediterranean aquaculture.  They are committed to their customers, the community, and the planet.

Now it’s time for us, the chefs, to take on that same responsibility, and source these sustainable fish for our menus.  We need to let our customers know that not only are these proteins delicious and nutritious, but by consuming them, they are ensuring that these food sources will be available for future generations for many years to come.


Kranios Greek Stone Bass whole fish
Kranios Greek Stone Bass whole fish

Kranios Me Domatakia – Greek Stone Bass with Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 4 x 5 oz skin-on filets of Greek Stone Bass (or other white flakey fish like branzino or cod)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Kyknos tomato paste
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dry Greek oregano
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • ½ bunch dill, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Season the fish filets with salt and pepper to taste, and place on a parchment lined rimmed sheet pan.
  3. Add the tomato paste to the olive oil, and stir to dilute and combine; reserve.
  4. Add the cherry tomatoes to the sheet pan so that they are evenly spread out around the fish filets; pour the olive oil/tomato paste mixture over the tomatoes and fish filets, and season with the dry Greek oregano.
  5. Bake for approximately 12-14 minutes, until fish is cooked through, and tomatoes are tender; remove from oven.
  6. Garnish liberally with chopped parsley and dill; serve and enjoy.

Chef Maria Loi is an Entrepreneur, Greek Food Ambassador and Healthy Lifestyle Guru. The author of more than 36 cookbooks, she is also the host of The Life of Loi, debuted on PBS in 2021, which aims to build an inspirational and educational movement around the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. Her Loi Food Products, a specialty brand built on traditional ingredients from Greece, includes pastas, beans, botanical herbs, refrigerated dips, honey and olive oil sold on QVC, at Whole Foods Markets and in other stores. The namesake of Loi Estiatorio in the heart of Manhattan, she also has the Loi Specialty Shop at The Plaza Hotel (open through January 2023) Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, and learn more about her food philosophy on her website.

  • Imperial Dade
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • Atosa USA
  • Day & Nite
  • McKee Foods
  • RATIONAL USA
  • RAK Porcelain
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Inline Plastics
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • Red Gold Sacramento
Maria Loi
Chef Maria Loi is an entrepreneur, Greek food ambassador and healthy lifestyle guru. The author of more than 36 cookbooks, she is also the host of The Life of Loi, which premiered on PBS and PBS Passport in December 2022, now available on Amazon Prime and Apple TV. The Life of Loi aims to build an inspirational, educational movement around the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. Loi Food Products, her specialty brand built on traditional ingredients from Greece, includes pastas, beans, botanical herbs, refrigerated dips, honey, holiday cookies, and olive oil sold on QVC, at Whole Foods Markets, Fresh Direct, and in other stores. The namesake of Loi Estiatorio in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, she also has the Loi Specialty Shop at The Plaza Hotel. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, and learn more about her food philosophy at Loi Estiatorio.