Salt baked fish

Any whole fish will do for this dish because this a cooking method as apposed to a recipe. but the finer fish are more suited to this style of cooking. Try a whole turbot or small halibut for a dinner party.

Firstly take 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and douse in a little rapeseed oil place in a dish and cover with oil and bake in the oven. This is going to be the base for the aioli to go with our fish. I like the taste of garlic but in things like aoli i happen to like the taste of cooked garlic a it is a lot milder and has a more rounded flavour after it has been baked in its own skin. Its a bit like the difference between sautéed onions, which are superb but they don’t have the flavour of onions baked in their skins underneath a joint of beef.

So while the garlic is cooking Take two large handfuls of course salt Maldon salt is the best for this as it has a deep iodine flavour that we sometimes don’t always get from the other ground table salts. As i am originally from Cheshire my relations who worked the salt mines of Nantwich would probably turn in their graves on hearing me using sea salt but on this occasion it is the best salt for the job! Add two eggs and some coursly ground black pepper corns and some grated lemon zest. And mix the bowl to a glupy mess. (that’s a technical term you understand!)

Place a third of the mix on a baking tray and place your fish on top. Leave the scales on the fish but let your fish monger take out the gills and guts. Fill the cavity with herbs. I like fennel, parsley and tarragon but you use what comes to hand in the way of soft herbs. Cover the fish with the rest of the salt mix and make sure it is fully sealed so that all the juices turn to steam and keep the fish moist. It will take about 15 minuets to cook a small fish but remember the heat needs time to penetrate the thickest part of the fish including the salt crust.

When it is cooked take it out of the oven and let it rest while you make a great salad to go with your fish.

Mean while the garlic (remember that?) should be cooked and cooled. Take the cloves and squeeze them from the thick end. You should have a straw coloured mass which smells sweet and garlicky. To this add a pinch of saffron and place in a pestle and mortar. Grind the mix and slowly add the olive oil a little at a time being very careful to incorporate all the oil before you add some more. Continue adding the oil and grinding until it is all incorporated and has a golden yellow appearance and smells like the mediterainen.

Take the fish to the table with the salad and the aioli and open the crust in front of your guests. The smell will get their juices flowing and the aioli will excite their taste buds.

Posted On: Monday, July 21st, 2014 @ 9:27 am | 0 Comments


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