Salt-Crusted Snapper With Blood Orange and Bay
In reviewing our mental index of dishes we’ve ‘always’ wanted to make but for some reason never have, the legendary whole fish in a salt crust leapt suddenly out and begged to be blogged this weekend. The decision of what to cook is usually not an easy one, sometimes involving coercion or bribery, but this was instantly unanimous. The salt crust provided the crucial fun factor that always inspires Rob, and I was intrigued by the radical simplicity of the dish. Plus, as we researched technique, we came across numerous superlative descriptions of the flavour and texture this method of cooking creates. So we decided to see for ourselves.
We were surprised in many ways. This dish is even easier to prepare than its simple list of ingredients makes it look. We read that beaten egg yolks made for an easier un-crusting, but found that unbeaten ones worked better. The aroma of citrus and herbs escapes through the salt crust as you cook the fish, perfuming the kitchen. The fish is in no way made salty. And most pleasantly, the flesh is more tender and pure-tasting than you can imagine. It’s something of a revelation.
We served this with shaved fennel (simply dressed with lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil) and cherry tomatoes roasted with orange zest, shards of garlic, and a dusting of wild black pepper and ground cardamom. (And then had it for lunch again the next day, with buttered rice. Very Lenten food, if you’re into that sort of thing.)