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Solare’s Sea Salt Crusted Whole fish

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A highly impressive presentation, salt crusting a whole fish seals in moisture and flavors without causing the fish itself to taste salty. Fish in photo is goldspotted sandbass but feel free to substitute snapper, grouper, striped bass, sea bass, branzino or similar sized fish. Recipe and photo courtesy Chef Accursio Lota and Solare Ristorante. Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3lbs fine sea salt 
  • 3 white egg
  • 1 whole fish (approx 2lbs)
  • 2 branch of thyme
  • 1 slice of lemon
  • 2 leaves of basil
  • 4 stems of parsley
  • Black pepper 

How to Prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 380°F
  2. Remove scales and gills from the fish, then gut it and cleaning with plenty of water. (Most whole fish sold in reputable fish markets have already been scaled, gilled and gutted. If unsure, ask the fishmonger to do it for you.)
  3. Fill belly of the fish with thyme, lemon, basil, parsley and some fresh ground black pepper.
  4. Mix the sea salt with the white eggs. It should have the texture of coarse, wet sand. Add some water if you feel it’s needed. NOTE: do not make the mixture too wet, which can ruin the result.
  5. Use a baking tray large enough to hold the fish with a few inches of extra space around it.
  6. Spread some of the salt mixture onto the tray, creating a salt bed just larger than the size of the fish. Next place fish on top of the salt bed and cover it with the rest of the mixture, patting the salt into the fish all around to give it shape.
  7. Cooking time will differ depending on size of fish, so follow this general guide: 

1 lb fish = 23 minute + 7 minute of resting time

1.5lb fish = 30 minute + 7 minute of resting time

2lb fish =  37 minute + 10 minute of resting time

2.5lb fish = 42 minute + 10 minute of resting time 

When it’s time to eat, hit all around edge of the salt crust with the back of a large spoon to loosen and lift top off. 

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