SALT BAKED SEA BREAM
Shelf life 2 days from delivery (keep refrigerated)
Takes around 40 minutes
One of the most lauded dishes in fine Italian restaurants armoury, it is the salty armour that presents a problem: it is not very easy, while cooking the fish, to check if it is done.
There are three ways around this:
- The commonest: overcook the fish, that way you are sure it is done (and that way, there is no point baking it in salt – the whole point is to cook the fish more perfectly than it could otherwise be).
- The most flexible: use a thermometer probe (leave a little spot unencrusted to insert it, free from salt, just behind the head of the fish) – bake it to an internal temperature of 38-40C, then rest it until it reaches an internal temperature of 50-55C. Do this if ever you buy your own fish and are not sure of the cooking time.
- The easiest: practice 1,000 times, until for a given oven temperature, size of fish, and thickness of salt you just know how long to leave it in. We have done this for you – for this fish (sea bream, 750g when caught & 600g when gutted), this amount of salt and this oven temperature, it will take 14 minutes, plus 5 minutes to rest.
If the fish is super-fresh (ours is), and if it is correctly cooked (yours will be), salt-baking is miraculous: the salty sarcophagus protects the fish from the heat of the oven, and allows the flesh within to cook very evenly to just the right temperature – cooked but unimaginably moist and juicy – and be perfectly seasoned the way through. Note to the wise: do not eat the salt, or the skin (both will be very, very salty).
ENJOY! This is one of the best ways to serve fish, and you should celebrate it with a falanghina or something also elegant and delicious.