The other day, I sent my lovely partner off to catch me a fish and he delivered. He brought home a beautiful snapper for us to enjoy that evening, and as happy as I was he didn't come home empty- handed, I felt a hint of sadness. What a privilege it is to be able to catch your fish in the sea and enjoy its sublime, melt-in-your-mouth freshness that very day. Nothing can compare to eating this fresh. I will miss New Zealand terribly.
This method of preparing your fish is common in the Mediterranean so you can be sure it will be simple and absurdly good. No need to scale your fish, as the scales will work to your advantage keeping the salt from penetrating the fish. There is no question about it, baking your fish in salt will require very little of you but you will get the most in return.
1 whole fish (i.e. snapper, sea bream, sea bass), gutted but keep scales on!
2 bay leaves
1 kg coarse sea salt/rock salt
herbs (one or any combination these: rosemary, parsley, thyme, tarragon)
splash of water (about 3 tbsp)
- Preheat oven to 175C/350F
- Place bay leaves inside the cavity
- Pour the salt in a bowl, add in the herbs, and then add a splash of cold water
- Mix the salt mixture with your hand to achieve a consistency that will allow you to mold it onto your fish
- Spread a layer of the salt mix on the bottom of your pan
- Place your fish on top then proceed to build a tight mound of salt all around your fish like a cast, until it is completely covered
- Place into oven - baking times: 1 lb - 16 min/ 2.5 lb - 27 min/ 4 lb - 35 min
- Once done take a knife to the top of the spine and cut through the crust, then lift it open like you would the hood of a car
- Once one side of the fish is uncovered, run the knife along the spine, then peel back the skin
- Remove the flesh and place on a separate platter, drizzle over with olive oil, salt and lemon