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Recipe for whole Mediterranean sea bass baked in a salt crust

Valerie Ryan for the boston globe/Valerie Ryan

Serves 4

LEMON HERB BUTTER

½cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1teaspoon chopped fresh
parsley
Grated rind of half a lemon

1. In a food processor, combine the butter, dill, chives, parsley, and lemon rind. Blend until smooth.

2. Pack into a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to use.

FISH

2whole Mediterranean sea bass (12 to 16 ounces each), gutted
2tablespoons olive oil
2lemons, halved and cut into slices
4sprigs fresh dill
6cups kosher salt
6egg whites
2lemons, cut into wedges (for serving)

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Rinse and dry the fish and rub the skin with olive oil. Place several lemon slices and 2 sprigs of dill in the cavity of each fish.

3. In a large bowl, using your hands, thoroughly mix the salt and egg whites. Spread 2 cups of the salt mixture on the baking tray, pressing to make a flat surface, and place the fish on top. Cover with the remaining salt mixture, molding it firmly around each fish (it is OK to leave the tail out of the salt).

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4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish, away from the backbone, reads 135-140 degrees (insert the probe through the salt). Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

5. Using the back of a spoon or handle of a table knife, hit the salt crust sharply to crack it. Carefully remove the crust, brushing off any excess salt, and transfer the fish to a cutting board.

6. Remove the top layer of skin and carefully lift the top fillets off of the bones with a fish spatula, transferring them to plates. Slowly remove the backbone from the bottom fillets and pull out any stray bones from the flesh. Lift the bottom fillets onto plates. Serve with lemon wedges and lemon herb butter. Valerie Ryan


Valerie Ryan can be reached at valerie.ryan.j@gmail.com