I think i’ve got a week-end project for you…
Really, i can’t stop smiling. Look what I made for lunch… Meet Pesce per Due in Italian or Bar en croute de sel in French.
Pretty, isn’t it? Today I’m going to show you one of my favorite way to enjoy fish. When people hear about the technique that consists of cooking a whole fish in a sea salt crust their first reaction is usually “That must be very salty!”, there’s also the occasional “Are you nuts!?”. A lot of salt is used in this recipe but the purpose is to create a perfectly hermetic seal so the fish can steam in its own natural essence. The fish also absorbs the aromas of whatever you place in its cavity – and that’s very good news for you my friends.
Take a mediterranean fish like this perfectly fresh branzino for example. He screams to be packed with bright mediterranean flavors such as lemon, rosemary, sicilian olives and fresh parsley. Doesn’t he look happy?…
Yes, a mediterranean fish packed with such bright aromas is a marriage made in heaven my friends and I’m sure Peter the Greek won’t disagree with me. Everything, from the moment of zen you’ll experience while preparing the fish to the Grand ceremonial of breaking the salt crust in front of your guests, every single little detail that goes into this dish is of gigantic proportions. You don’t believe me? Try one of those olives after it’s been cooked inside the fish.
So is it really salty you ask? Well no, it is just right. I give it the zen seal of approval. Highly recommended.
One 2-pound fish (such as branzino, dorado, red snapper or black sea bass)
3 1/2 cups fine sea salt
3 large egg whites
4 sprigs parsley, stems and leaves separated, leaves chopped for garnish
2 sprigs rosemary
4 Sicilian olives
1 clove garlic
2 slices lemon
Serve with sauteed spinach, roasted tomatoes, hen of the wood mushrooms and shallots. And a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.Preheat the oven to 400′F. Trace a rough outline of the whole fish on a piece of parchment paper, and cut it out.
In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of sea salt and the egg whites with a wooden spoon (the mixture should feel like wet sand).
Place the parsley stems, rosemary, olives, garlic and lemon slices in the cavity of the fish. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup salt over a baking tray. Place the cut-out parchment paper on the salt and place the fish on top.
Use your hands to cover the whole fish with the salt and egg white mixture, pressing down onto the fish to pack it tightly. Bake for 20 minutes, without turning, until the salt crust is hard and golden brown.
Bring the baking tray to the table and break the salt crust with the handle of a knife or a small hammer. Brush aside the excess salt with a brush. Use a spoon to break the flesh away along the top side (it will pull away from the bone). Remove the bottom filet as well and serve immediately with sautee spinach, oven-roasted tomatoes with olive oil and thyme, roasted mushrooms and shallots. Drizzle a little olive oil on the fish and don’t forget to serve the olives! Enjoy.