Branzino Sotto Sale, Salmoriglio
Whole Salt-Baked Mediterranean Sea Bass
with an olive oil-lemon-garlic herb sauce with red chiles
Fresh Mediterranean Sea Bass on ice is flown in daily and rushed to our local Whole Foods Market. I ask the fishmonger to descale and gut the fish.
A salt encasement is made by combining 3 lbs. (one box) of Kosher salt with 4 egg whites and enough water to make a sandy consistency, up to 1 c. or a bit less. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper then fan out enough salt mixture to make a bed for the branzino. Place branzino on the salt bed and cover completely with the remainder of the salt.
Bake the branzino in a pre-heated 425° oven for 35 – 40 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the sauce.
Salmoriglio – an olive oil, lemon, garlic herb sauce with sliced red chile pepper
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/3 c. lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 t. dried oregano
- 1 T. chopped Italian parsley
- 1 1/2 t. kosher salt
- 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
Remove fish from the oven and crack the salt dome with a mallet.
Lift the fish out of the salt with a spatula.
Brush excess salt off the fish. Gently peel the skin back and fillet the fish.
Baking in a salt crust allows the character of the delicate flesh to shine through. The salt crust seals in the juices, while the skin protects the flesh from becoming salty. The meat is moist and buttery, flaky yet smooth, firm yet tender, silky and velvety. Salmoriglio adds a fresh herbal-citrusy dimension to the dish.
The newest cookbook in my collection, My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino,
was the main resource for this terrific recipe.
UPDATE – The entire meal is now posted here:
La Cucina Calabrese – A Rustic Southern Italian Dinner Party