Monday, May 31, 2010

whole fish baked in sea salt

was something I wanted to try for quite a while, but being intimidated by the "whole fish" part I always kept putting it off for some other, more convenient time. The truth is, that since these days all of our food comes neatly packaged, already sliced, filleted or ground, it seems a bit overwhelming to choose right kind of fish, clean it and gut it. So, after weeks of window shopping, I've finally decided to give it a try. I bought beautiful tai snapper and since I've never done it, I(cowardly) asked the fishmonger to gut it and clean it for me. I stuffed it with kumquats, herbs and garlic and baked it enveloped in a thick layer of sea salt. It turned out to be the best fish I've ever eaten...delicate, juicy and very aromatic. As the fish bakes, layer of salt turns into thick crust, entrapping the whole moisture, herbs and citrus aromas inside. Simple, healthy and delicious!!! Where is the final photo??? Well.....make the fish and you'll find out why it's missing...

shopping list
*whole fish about 2lb, I used New Zealand  Tai Snapper, ask the fishmonger to remove the gills and gut it for you, the scales and head left on
*sea salt, you can use kosher salt if your prefer,
*2 sprigs of rosemary, few sprigs of thyme,
*chives, 2 bay leaves,
*2 garlic cloves, smashed
*4 kumquats sliced,
*black pepper, coarsely ground,
*spray bottle with water,
*parchment paper, kitchen twine

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2.On the baking sheet spread parchment paper big enough to wrap around the fish. Spread a thick layer of salt, spray with water to form a crust, place cleaned fish on top.
3.Place the herbs, kumquats, garlic and black pepper in the belly cavity of the fish.

4.Make another layer of salt on top, leaving head and tail exposed, spray with water.
5.Wrap with parchment paper and secure it with kitchen twine. Bake for about 25 min on the middle rack of the oven.
to serve
Remove the fish from the oven, unwrap it and gently crack off the layer of salt, the skin should come off with it.If it doesn't, you might want to use a sharp knife to gently lift it off. Divide among two or four plates, drizzle with olive oil or sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice(I didn't think it was necessary) and enjoy it!
It tastes great with roasted potatoes and paired with dry white wine, like sauvignon blanc.

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