Baked Sea Bass in Herbed Salt Crust

This recipe was a great success in my opinion. One of the greater problems in baking fish is in ensuring that the fish does not dry out whilst baking in the oven. This recipe solves the dilema quite nicely with the crust preventing moisture from the fish from escaping, and instead using it to bake the fish thoroughly.

You’ll note that the fish was cooked in its entirity, from head to tail. This reminds me of the time Tara and I were eating out at a local Chinese restaurant where we were celebrating Chinese New Year.

A Gentleman was seated to our south, and had ordered some sort of fish dish. This initiated a series of events which included a member of the wait staff going to the front of the restaurant and picking out a fish from one of the several aquariums they had located in the lobby.

The fish was taken to the back where it was gutted, and then deep fried. It was brought out and placed in front of the man. He stared at it for about five minutes before calling on one of the wait staff.

“I can’t eat this”, he said. “I didn’t know it came with the head. I can’t eat it with a head”.

Me? I have no problem in cooking a whole fish. I’m wondering how much this problem affects the general populace of the United States.

  • 1 2 lb. sea bass (cleaned, leaving head and tail intact)
  • 4 tbl plus 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 slice Lemon
  • 1 slice onion
  • 3 1/2 cup Kosher salt, (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 1/2 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Warm water plus additional if necessary

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Rinse sea bass under cold water and pat dry inside and out. Sprinkle cavity of bass with 2 sprigs of rosemary, along with a slice of onion and lemon, and pepper generously.

In a bowl, whisk together the kosher salt and flour along with 4 Tablespoons of rosemary. Stir in 1 cup warm water plus additional as necessary to form a paste.

Place the bass in an oiled baking pan. Coat top of bass completely with half of salt mixture, patting it on, and turn bass over. Coat other side in same manner, ensuring the fish is completely coated (although you can get away with not coating the tail).

Place bass in middle of oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then crack salt crust with a sharp knife or hammer and remove top crust, discarding it. Place whole fish on a serving dish.

To serve, remove sections of the fish with a serving fork. If done correctly, the spine of the fish should nearly fall out and the fish head should also fall off with no problems.

DO NOT eat the crust, unless you have water handy.

Serves 4

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