Salt crust cooking is a very ancient method with numerous benefits. In terms of flavour, it keeps the food nice and moist, enhancing its natural flavour without adding any fat or cooking liquid. It is also a great healthy alternative to poaching or steaming.
The most common Italian salt crust recipe is with spigola also known as branzino, which you’ll find in many seaside restaurants across the peninsula. The use of whipped egg white in the crust is essential to avoid any breakages; this will help to retain all the fish’s moisture.
Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
- 1 small bunch of thyme
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 ½ kg sea bass
- 3 egg whites
- 1kg rock salt
- 1kg table salt
- 1 lettuce
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Finely chop and mix the thyme leaves, parseley and lemon zest. Scale and gut the sea bass and stuff the cavity of the fish with the herb mixture plus the smashed garlic clove.
Whip the egg whites and mix gently with both the rock salt and table salt until sticky. If necessary add some water.
Boil the lettuce leaves in water and pat them dry. Spread two-thirds of the salt mixture on the base of an oven-safe dish or skillet, brush the fish with olive oil and cover with the lettuce leaves to protect the fish.
Lay the fish on the salt bed and cover it completely with the rest of the salt mixture. Press the crust firmly and make sure no spots are left without it.
Bake at 180C for 25 minutes.
Carefully break the salt crush, remove and place the fish meat onto a serving plate avoiding bones and fins.
Season with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.