Friday, April 3, 2009

salt-baked branzino

you couldn't tell, but this is the easiest fish prep i've tried- and the results are amazing! in italy they'll bring a tray with a foot-high mound of sea salt to your table; i've cut that down in size and it still melts in your mouth. to serve, i lifted out the filets and made black rice, below pic.

1-2 lb whole branzino , cleaned, head & tail intact *or similar sea bass 
1 egg white per lb of fish
coarse sea salt or kosher salt (*no additives: iodine stops salt from caking)
1 lemon, sliced in rounds
2 garlic cloves, smashed
fresh parsley sprigs
olive oil
*(you'll need 1 baking sheet w/ parchment paper, or foil on top)

Preheat oven to 400. Place egg whites in a bowl and whip until foamy. Add salt and fold in until it's like the texture of wet sand. Spread enough wet salt across your foil or parchment paper to lay the fish on. Rinse fish, pat dry, and lay on top of the salt on the baking sheet.  Put the lemon slices, parsley sprigs, and garlic in the front cavity (ok if it sticks out). Use a wooden spoon, or your hands if you like, firmly pat the salt mixture to cover the fish completely ( this seals in the moisture). I had some grape tomatoe sand tossed those on. Bake in the middle of the oven 15 minutes. (you can move it under the broiler for another 30 seconds so the crust browns a little.) Let cool for a minute, then crack salt shell, and serve with a little extra chopped parsley, olive oil, and a wedge of lemon  ;-)

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