Italian Cuisine: Salt-crusted sea bass
- WTI Magazine #96 Oct 14, 2017
Salt-crusted sea bass is a mouth-watering and healthy dish. Sea bass is low in calories and an excellent source of protein, minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Salt-crust baking is one of the oldest and healthiest methods of cooking food. The salt insulates the food, cooking it gently and evenly. In this recipe sea bass cooks using its own fat, while the fish's moisture creates steam and keeps its natural flavor, lightness and tenderness intact.
Contrary to what you may think, this recipe is extremely simple and requires very few ingredients. The crust is made with whipped egg whites mixed with salt and herbs. Many people, instead of egg white, use only wet salt. This other method however, has a disadvantage: the damp salt that covers the food dries in the heat of the oven and creates cracks in the crust, which in turn dries the food inside. The egg whites provide a compact dough that will not break, holding in all the aroma, moisture and taste of the sea bass.
BRANZINO AL SALE (SALT-CRUSTED SEA BASS)
Preparation time: 45 minutes Baking time: 30 minutes Servings: 4
1 kg (28.5 oz) sea bass, cleaned, descaled and rinsed
4 egg whites
10 sage leaves
7 thyme sprigs
7 rosemary sprigs
1 bunch of parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 organic lemons, zest
1 ½ kg (about 3 pounds) coarse sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and set rack to the middle position
2. Finely chop all the herbs together and stuff the fish with some herbs, lemon zest and two garlic cloves
3. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks with an electric whisk. Add the rest of the herbs and lemon zest. Gently fold in the salt with a spatula
4. Place some parchment paper on a baking sheet and place half of the salt mixture for the fish to sit on
5. Place the fish on the salt mixture and cover completely with the remaining salt mixture, including the sides, to completely seal in the fish
6. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes
7. Break away the salt, clean and serve with lemon juice, olive oil and pepper to taste.