I have been progressing on my quest to cook and eat more fish quite nicely. Today I have for you a Salt Baked Branzino. I actually have eaten a lot of Branzino, it's one of my mom's favorites and she grills them whole all the time. I decided to bake mine in a salt dome, which is something I have always wanted to do. It looks and sounds impressive and tastes wonderful and it is very easy to do. The hardest part in getting the fillets out of the whole fish after they cook. Some of the pieces turned out nicely, but some fell apart. Be gentle, is the best advice I can give, it's a delicate fish. And while you are eating the fish, be careful for little bones that might be left. I realize this doesn't sound like a really winning endorsement but I assure you the fish is absolutely delicious and worth the little extra effort! I served the delicious fish with simple roasted Brussels sprouts (one of my favorites!) and some leftover corn bread that I had made for my ribs night. Enjoy!
Salt Baked Branzino:
1 14.5 oz container of unrefined sea salt, fine crystals
2 egg whites, possibly more
2 1 lb whole branzinos, cleaned
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 lemons, plus more for serving
1 tsp of pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the fish and pat dry. Place the fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Season inside the slits of the fish with peeper, and stuff each one with 3 sprigs of thyme. Cut one lemon into 6 thin slices and reserve ends for juice. Place 3 lemon slices on the inside of each fish, over the thyme. Squeeze lemon juice over the fish. Mix salt with egg whites, one at a time, until the mixture looks like wet sand. Divide the salt between the two fish and cover the fish with salt, packing it down slightly. Bake fish until the sand has a slightly golden tint, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and crack the salt to remove fish. Check the fish for doneness, and if they aren't cooked through return to the oven (without the salt is fine) for a few minutes. When the fish are cooked, remove the lemon and thyme for the fish. Cut off the head and the tail and open the fish from the slit. Gently lift fish away from the bone and serve with a piece of fresh lemon for squeezing. (adapted from Epicurious)
The fish stuffed and ready for their salt dome:
Salted, baked, and ready to be cracked and served:
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 lb of brussel sprouts
1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 425. These can really be cooked at any temperature, I started them at 425, then lowered the oven to 400 when I put the fish in. Cut the ends off the Brussels sprouts and wash them. In a large casserole dish toss the Brussels sprouts with salt pepper and olive oil. Cook the sprouts on the top rack until they are tender and browned in spots, about 35 minutes, but will vary by temperature.