Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Salt Roasted Fish

I learned to make a variation of this in a cooking class earlier this year. My first thought was, "Fish, cooked in salt? It'll be dry. Won't the salt pull the moisture out?"
Wrong again -- it was moist and delicious, without a hint of saltiness. And the relish on the side? Fabulous!

This is a great dish to serve for company. Always brings Oohs and Aahs! (not to mention Yums!)

Salt-Crusted Fish with Fennel and Green Olive Relish (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine and Sur La Table Cooking School)

Preheat oven to 400F, rack in middle of oven.

1 whole 2 1/2 - 3 lb Snapper or Salmon, scaled and cleaned
Aromatics for the cavity: fennel fronds, thin shallot slices, thin citrus slices
2 tsp. olive oil
6 cups Kosher Salt
4 large Egg Whites
Fennel, Green Olive, Mint Relish

Rinse fish inside and out. Pat dry. Rub skin with love oil. Season cavity with salt and pepper, stuff with aromatics.
Meanwhile, combine salt and egg whites
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Stand fish up on baking sheet, as if it were swimming.
Using your hands, cover with salt/egg white mixture, leaving head and tail exposed. (If this is difficult, lay fish down and cover with salt like this:

See that bit of liquid beneath the fish head?  One recipe I saw suggested adding 1/4 cup water to salt/egg white mix. Don't do it.
And, so everything you can to stand the fish up when cooking.

Roast about 35 minutes, or until a thermometer registers between 135 and 140. Let the fish rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Knock off crust with the back of a large metal spoon. Use a pastry brush to remove any salt clinging to crust. Scrape the skin off  the top of the filet,. One the top filet is removed, lift the tail bone and pull to expose lower filet. Set aside aromatics from cavity, and use a spoon to lift filet from skin.

Sere with Fennel, Olive and Mint Relish* and a loaf of Crusty Bread.

*Fennel, Green Olive and Mint Relish

1 Medium Fennel Bulb, (about 3/4lb), tough outer layers removed, cut into 1/8" dice/1-1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1 Tbs. small capers, rinsed and chopped
Kosher salt and ground pepper
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint

In a large bowl, toss fennel, olives, onion, caper and 3/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Let sit 10-15 minutes until fennel starts to soften. Stir in oil, vinegar, mint, and season taste with more salt and pepper.

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