Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Salt-Crusted Fish

I’ve cooked beef in a salt crust before so I was curious to see how this fish would turn out when I saw the technique in this month’s issue of Fine Cooking.

My friend Maria remembers her grandmother making salt crusted fish when she was a young girl in Italy. In fact, most regions in the south of Italy cook fish this way.

Surprisingly, the fish doesn’t taste salty at all. In fact the salt crust seals in moisture essentially steaming the fish. The result: perfectly cooked, moist fish. I cooked mine for 35 minutes.

This is one of the easiest and best methods of cooking fish and so healthy.

Bon Appetit!

Salt-Crusted Fish
2-pound bass, insides removed
2 thin orange slices
2 sprigs rosemary
2 teaspoon olive oil
6 cups kosher salt
4 egg whites
½ cup water

Rinse the fish well, inside and out and dry.

Stuff the fish with the orange and rosemary. Rub the skin of the fish with the olive oil, which will help with removing the skin after the fish is cooked.

In a large bowl, combine the salt, egg whites and water. Place a bed of salt on a rimmed baking sheet about the size of the fish. Lay the fish on the salt and cover the fish with the remaining salt mixture.

Roast the fish for 30 – 45 minutes. Remove for the oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

To serve, tap the crust with the back of a large metal spoon to break it. Remove the salt and use a pastry brush to remove the remaining salt. Use a spoon to scrape the skin off the top of the fish and push it to the side.

Run the spoon along the spine to separate the fillet from the bones. Remove the fillet to a serving plate. When the top fillet is gone, grab the tail end of the bones and pull them out, revealing the bottom fillet. Discard the aromatics from the fish and use the spoon to remove the bottom fillet.

Fennel, Green Olive, and Mint Relish
by Tony Rosenfeld

This tangy, crunchy relish is an appetizing difference to the salt-roasted fish.

I liked the flavor and texture of this relish so much I am going to use it instead of tartar sauce which has a lot more calories and fat with its mayonnaise base.

1 medium fennel bulb (about 3/4 lb.), tough outer layers removed, cut into 1/8-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/3 cup pitted green olives (like picholine), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 Tbs. nonpareil (small) capers, rinsed and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint

In a large bowl, toss the fennel, olives, onion, capers, and 3/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Let sit until the fennel starts to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the olive oil, vinegar, and mint and season to taste with more salt and pepper.