Friday, October 17, 2008

Salt baked branzino

Here's yet another recipe from the Dave Pasternak cookbook. That makes three in a row. So far, they have all been good, but I think this is my favorite. It's easy, fun to make, and tastes really good.

Start with a whole fish. I used branzino, but any white fish will do. Just get whatever is fresh. Clean the fish, make sure it's scaled, clip all the fins, and stuff the cavity with lemon slices, a sprig of rosemary, some parsley stems (reserve the leaves for garnish), a clove of garlic, and a couple olives.
For the salt crust, mix together salt in a ratio of about one egg white to a little over one cup of salt. This fish was a little over a pound, and I used 2 1/4 cups of salt and two egg whites. If you get a bigger fish, use 3 to 3 1/2 cups of salt.

Place a little of the salt mixture on a baking sheet cover this with a piece of parchment paper in the shape of the fish. This will allow you to remove the bottom side of the fish from the salt crust when you are done cooking.
Cover the fish with the remaining salt mixture and bake at 400F for about 20 minutes.
When the fish is done baking, crack the crust with the spoon and peel it away from the fish. Run your knife along the spine of the fish to separate the top fillet and remove carefully. After you plate the top fillet, you can just pull out the fish spine in one piece, leaving the bottom fillet in the salt crust. You can just lift up the bottom fillet by cutting loose the parchment paper and then sliding the fillet onto the plate. Garnish with some lemon and parsley. Since we had some egg yolks left over from the salt crust, we also made some lemon aioli to go with the fish.
Serve the fish with whatever sides work for you. I made baked brown rice and a mixture of kale and collards with garlic, red pepper flakes, and bacon braised in chicken stock.

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