Recipe update from Feb,01, 2008
This dish isn’t unique to just Greek cuisine. I’ve seen fish baked in coarse sea salt in many countries that hug the Mediterranean basin. Everyone’s in on baking whole fish in a salt crust: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece.Â If I haven’t noted your country, do you folks also bake fish in this manner?
Let me tell you what this not – definitely NOT SALTY. The sea salt acts like a crust, enveloping the body, leaving you with a moist and succulent end result. The sea salt is “insulation” during the baking process.
The sea salt imparts enough seasoning to the fish without the dish becoming inedible. What you do want to do is carefully remove the skin of the fish after baking. The skin IS salty but once you remove the skin, you’re left with a moist, perfectly seasoned fish.
You’ll need a whole fish for this method, such as a red snapper, sea bass, trout or a salmon. This method also works well with a smaller fish, like mackerel or this case, two whole sea bream. Just line the fish up in a row on your baking tray and cover the bodies of the fish with the salt mixture. The head and tail end may be exposed (not covered with salt).
I’ve added the zest of 1 lemon into the salt mixture. This imparted a lovely, lemon aroma to the fish.
1 whole large fish or 2 whole sea bream (bass), gutted and scaled
2 cups of coarse sea salt
approx. 1/2Â cup of cold water
1/3 cup flour
3 egg whites
zest of 1 lemon
3-4 sprigs of thyme
Preheated 450F oven
Ladolemono with Scallions & Thyme
1/4 cup lemon juice
splash of orange juice
1 tsp. of Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. scallions (or chives) finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse and pat-dry your fish and reserve.
- In a bowl, add your salt, flour, egg whites and lemon zest and while stirring with a spoon,Â gradually add the water. Keep adding the water until the mixture starts to adhere/becoming pasty.
- Place your parsley, thyme and lemon slices into the cavity of the fish.
- Spoon a layer of the salt mixture onto a baking sheet and then place the fish on top (you just need enough to insulate the bottom part of the fish). Now cover the fish with the remainder of the salt mixture. It’s okay to leave the head and the tail exposed.
- Place in the middle-top part of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. In the meantime, add all your ladolemono ingredients in a jar and shake well to emulsify. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and reserve.
- Remove the fish and allow the fish to cool for 10 minutes.
- Using the flat side of the meat tenderizer, hammer gently at the crust to crack it open. Carefully (it could still be hot) remove the salt crust to expose your fish.
- Use the dull part of a knife to carefully scrape and remove the salty skin from the body (leave the skin on the head and tail on for presentation purposes). Carefully flip the fish and remove the skin from the other side. Carefully transfer to a platter and serve with a Greek Oil/Lemon Sauce (Ladolemono).
- Serve with a Megapanos Savatiano white.
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