This recipe always reminds me of my childhood and in particular the time we spent in Italy where my dad worked for a few years. My mom often made this recipe and recently I found myself experimenting with it. You can use a range of different types of fish, but I like to use seabass. Note that if you use an entire large fish then you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
This cooking method makes the fish more tender and moist compare to the traditional cooking methods. Also, although the fish is covered in salt, the skin of the fish protect the actual flesh so that it does not become salty. In fact, you will find that the fish will become mildly salted. Just remember that you must brush all of the salt from the skin of the fish before serving to ensure that the flesh of the fish does not become too salty.
2 sea bass (approximately 350-400g each), gutted and scaled
1.5kg sea salt
2 egg whites
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 rosemary stalk, finely chopped
Small bunch of thyme, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/ 400°F/ Gas 6.
Wash the sea bass well both inside and out, then pat dry with kitchen paper.
Using a shallow grater, remove zest from the lemon and set aside. Slice the lemon and then cut each slice in two and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the rosemary, thyme and garlic and stuff into cavity of both fish and then place the sliced lemon into the cavity and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then add the lemon zest and whisk until mixed. Add the salt and mix fully with a large spoon (add some water if too dry)
Place two separate layers of sea salt in the bottom of a roasting tin large enough to hold both fish comfortably (approximately 1cm in height)
Lay each fish on top of a salt bed and then cover the fish with the remaining sea salt, gently pressing down. The fish should be completely enclosed by salt.
Place the roasting pan in the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Break the salt crust with a spoon or knife. Using a pastry brush, remove the salt crystals from the surface of the fish and from around the fish and place onto a serving plate.