Fellow NNTCD member, Leo, and I are playing a friendly game of dueling whole fish recipes. Here's my submission. Everyone else feel free to chime in.
WHOLE SEA BASS BAKED IN A SALT CRUST (Serves 2)
1 whole sea bass (1½ -2 lbs.), head and tail left on but gutted and scaled
1 3-lb. box of Kosher salt
5 egg whites, lightly beaten
Several sprigs of any fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, dill, etc.)
½ of a lemon, sliced thinly (cut the remaining half into wedges for garnish)
Finely chopped parsley
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine entire box of kosher salt with egg whites. Using a spoon mix until it resembles wet sand. Set aside.
Allow fish to come close to room temperature. Season the inside with salt and pepper and stuff with lemon slices and sprigs of fresh herbs. Rub the outside of the fish with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Set aside.
On a sheet pan, press a ¼-inch layer of salt mixture, large enough to hold the fish. Make sure the salt is packed well. Lay the fish on top. Using the remainder of the salt, cover the entire fish and pack well ensuring the entire fish is enclosed.
Place the sheet pan in the center on the middle rack of the oven. Roast for 25 minutes or until salt is golden brown and hard. Remove the fish from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Using the back of a kitchen knife, crack the top of the salt crust. Carefully remove the top portion of the salt crust and discard. Peel back the skin on the top half of the fish. Carefully remove the top filet and place in a serving dish. Don’t worry if it breaks into a few pieces. Remove the skeleton bone in one piece. Remove the bottom filet from the skin and place alongside the first filet.
Season filets with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Enjoy.