Mi pescado a la sal (My fish baked in salt)

Salt Baked Fish

Serves 2

  • For the fish

  • 1 kg coarse rock salt

  • 2 large free-range eggs

  • 1½ tablespoons fennel seeds

  • 1 lemon

  • 600g sea bass, or 2 portion-sized bream, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, gutted, scales left on, gills out

  • 1 small bunch fresh basil

  • 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • For the aioli

  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 pinch saffron

  • sea salt

  • 50 ml olive oil

  • 50 ml good-quality Spanish extra virgin olive oil

  • For the side salad

  • ½ cucumber, peeled

  • 1 large handful green olives, stoned

  • 2 jarred red peppers

  • a few sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped

  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to full whack. Put the rock salt into a large, wide bowl with 2 tablespoons of water, your eggs, fennel seeds and the peeled rind of the lemon. Mix everything together until sticky and claggy, then spread two-thirds of the mixture around the base of a roasting tray in a thick layer. Stuff the cavity of your fish with the basil and parsley (or any fragrant herbs), then lay the fish on the salt bed, and completely cover it with the rest of the salt so you get a layer just over 1.5cm thick. Pat it down firmly, then put into the oven for 15 minutes.



Once cooked, remove from the oven, take a sharp knife and stick it through the salt into the middle of your fish. Carefully touch the knife to your lip and if it's hot, the fish is ready. Leave to one side for 10 minutes.



Meanwhile, pound and mush up the garlic, saffron and a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until you've got a smooth vibrant orange paste. Use the pestle to mix in the olive oil, a drizzle at a time. Be patient and wait until you've got a smooth emulsion before adding the next drizzle. Do the same with the extra virgin olive oil. If it splits, pour the mixture out, pound some more garlic and salt together, then really slowly add the split mixture to that. Be patient! Have a taste. Initially it will be fiery and you'll think you don't like it, but it's supposed to be that way. Add a squeeze or two of juice from your peeled lemon and taste again.



Roughly slice your cucumber and put it into a bowl. Tear the olives and add to the bowl along with the torn-up peppers, the parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper, then toss together.

By now the salt on your fish should be hard as a brick, so give it a whack around the edges with the back of a spoon, and if you're lucky, the whole top will peel off. Carefully brush the excess salt off your fish, trying not to let the salt touch the flesh, then gently move it to a platter using a fish slice. Run a knife along the spine of the fish up to the head, then cut across the fish below the head. Use the knife to find the bones, then carefully lift the fillet up so the fish opens like a book. Discard the skin and bones and put beautiful big flakes of fish on your serving plates with a dollop of your aioli on top and some olive salad.

Nutritional Information

Mi pescado a la sal (My fish baked in salt)

With fiery saffron aioli and a simple salad

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0 foodies cooked this
Salt-baked fish is a bit of a Spanish technique, and really keeps the flesh juicy while it cooks
Serves 2
50m
Not too tricky
Method

This Spanish technique of baking fish in a thick layer of salt is not only quite theatrical, it will also give you the most perfectly cooked fish ever. The salt is there to create a little kiln or oven around the fish so don't worry; you won't be eating any of it. Make sure the fish isn't scaled because the scales help keep the moisture inside the fish as it cooks. This is a great principle. Obviously sizes of fish and temperatures of ovens vary but as long as you keep an eye on things and test the fish before removing the salt, by inserting a knife into it and touching it to your lip, you should be just fine.

Preheat the oven to full whack. Put the rock salt into a large, wide bowl with 2 tablespoons of water, your eggs, fennel seeds and the peeled rind of the lemon. Mix everything together until sticky and claggy, then spread two-thirds of the mixture around the base of a roasting tray in a thick layer. Stuff the cavity of your fish with the basil and parsley (or any fragrant herbs), then lay the fish on the salt bed, and completely cover it with the rest of the salt so you get a layer just over 1.5cm thick. Pat it down firmly, then put into the oven for 15 minutes.

Once cooked, remove from the oven, take a sharp knife and stick it through the salt into the middle of your fish. Carefully touch the knife to your lip and if it's hot, the fish is ready. Leave to one side for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pound and mush up the garlic, saffron and a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until you've got a smooth vibrant orange paste. Use the pestle to mix in the olive oil, a drizzle at a time. Be patient and wait until you've got a smooth emulsion before adding the next drizzle. Do the same with the extra virgin olive oil. If it splits, pour the mixture out, pound some more garlic and salt together, then really slowly add the split mixture to that. Be patient! Have a taste. Initially it will be fiery and you'll think you don't like it, but it's supposed to be that way. Add a squeeze or two of juice from your peeled lemon and taste again.

Roughly slice your cucumber and put it into a bowl. Tear the olives and add to the bowl along with the torn-up peppers, the parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper, then toss together.
By now the salt on your fish should be hard as a brick, so give it a whack around the edges with the back of a spoon, and if you're lucky, the whole top will peel off. Carefully brush the excess salt off your fish, trying not to let the salt touch the flesh, then gently move it to a platter using a fish slice. Run a knife along the spine of the fish up to the head, then cut across the fish below the head. Use the knife to find the bones, then carefully lift the fillet up so the fish opens like a book. Discard the skin and bones and put beautiful big flakes of fish on your serving plates with a dollop of your aioli on top and some olive salad.

Whether it's delicious vegetarian or vegan recipes you're after, or ideas for gluten or dairy-free dishes, you'll find plenty here to inspire you. For more info on how we classify our lifestyle recipes please read our special diets fact sheet, or or for more information on how to plan your meals please see our special diets guidance.

Nutritional Information Amount per serving:
  • Calories 823 41%
  • Carbs 4.7g 2%
  • Sugar 2.5g 3%
  • Fat 59.4g 85%
  • Saturates 8.5g 43%
  • Protein 65.0g 144%
Of an adult's reference intake

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BUYING SUSTAINABLY SOURCED FISH

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Buying sustainably sourced fish means buying fish that has been caught without endangering the levels of fish stocks and with the protection of the environment in mind. Wild fish caught in areas where stocks are plentiful are sustainably sourced, as are farmed fish that are reared on farms proven to cause no harm to surrounding seas and shores.

When buying either wild or farmed fish, ask whether it is sustainably sourced. If you're unable to obtain this information, don't be afraid to shop elsewhere – only by shopping sustainably can we be sure that the fantastic selection of fish we enjoy today will be around for future generations.

For further information about sustainably sourced fish, please refer to the useful links below:

Marine Stewardship Council
http://www.msc.org/

Fish Online
http://www.fishonline.org

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