Salt baked sea bass with rosemary and thyme
- April 2022
- Serves 2-3
- Hands-on time 15 minutes. Oven time 30 minutes.
This Mediterranean-inspired baked sea bass is stuffed with fragrant herbs, lemon and garlic. For optimal drama, smash the salt crust at the table in front of your guests.
Need a veggie option? Try our salt-baked celeriac with tahini.
- 24.5g (5.4g saturated)
- 0.5g (0g sugars)
- 4 free-range egg whites
- 1.5kg coarse sea salt
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
- 1kg sea bass, gutted and cleaned (but not scaled), fins removed (ask your fishmonger to do this for you)
- Small bunch fresh rosemary
- Small bunch fresh thyme
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, skin on, bashed
- Heat the oven to 180°C fan/gas 6. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper – it should be big enough to fit the fish on comfortably. To make the salt crust, whisk the egg white to soft peaks, then fold in the salt and fennel seeds.
- Spread one third of the salt mixture onto the lined baking tray and flatten to make a bed for the fish (it should be about 1cm thick), then lay the sea bass on top of it. Season the cavity, then stuff it with the herbs, lemon slices and garlic. Spoon the remaining salt mixture over the sea bass and use your hands to mould it around the fish in an even layer so that it is completely enclosed. Bake for 30 minutes.
- To serve, crack the crust, remove it from the fish and discard, then remove the skin and discard that too. Brush off any excess salt, then flake the flesh from the bone in large pieces and serve with fried potatoes and a green salad.
NEFF TIP: To ensure your oven is dry for this recipe, preheat or run the Drying Function to drive away any residual water that would prevent a good salt crust.
Use it up: We used egg whites from a carton to make the crust so that there weren’t any yolks to use up. If you only have whole eggs, you can use the leftover yolks to make aioli, custard or to enrich pastry. Alternatively, they can be frozen for up to 3 months – simply beat them until smooth with a pinch of salt and pour into a freeze bag or container. This will stop them going gelatinous.
The salt crust creates a protective, insulating layer, helping to retain the moisture in the fish and allowing it to cook more evenly. Although you need a large quantity of salt to cover a fish this size, don’t be alarmed, the skin is removed before eating and the flesh beneath is perfectly seasoned.
The granular crystals of coarse sea salt make a far sturdier crust than fine salt.
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