J.Sheekey’s Salt-Baked Sea Bass

Salt Baked Sea Bass with Beurre Blanc by Jean Cazals (2)

This is a delicious way to cook firm-textured fish such as bass, bream and snapper, sealing and cooking a whole fish without any juices or flavour escaping.

Try an unfilleted fish if you’re confident about serving at the table. Otherwise, ask the fishmonger to bone the bass from the belly, leaving the head and tail on – a bit like a kipper – removing the backbone and the small pin bones that run down the fillets.

Serves 4

• 1.5kg bass, whole or boned as above
• 1kg coarse sea salt
• 200g table salt
• Water to mix
• ½ bulb fennel, thinly sliced
• ½ bunch dill
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Extra virgin olive oil or melted unsalted butter to serve

1 An hour before cooking the fish, add a cupful of water to the salts and mix in a bowl to the consistency of a snowball. Spread a thin layer of salt on a baking tray. Fill the fish’s stomach with most of the dill and all of the fennel and season.
2 Lay the bass on the bed of salt and cover it with the rest, leaving the head free, creating a crust about 1cm thick, moulding it firmly it with your hands.
3 Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.
4 Bake the fish for 45 minutes. Serve at the table if you are feeling confident or cut in the kitchen (perhaps after showing your guests the dish as it comes out of the oven).
5 Have warm plates ready and a large clean plate for the bits. Crack the salt a couple of times with the back of a heavy knife and carefully scrape it away from the fish, ensuring you remove as much as possible.
6 Remove the head and tail and cut the fish through the body into even-sized portions, giving the underside a final check for salt before transferring it to the plates.
7 In a small saucepan, add either olive oil or a little butter (according to taste) and gently heat with chopped dill. Serve drizzled over the fish with simply cooked green vegetables or a salad.

Recipe courtesy of J.Sheekey. Find similar recipes inside the restaurant’s new charity calendar, which features photographs of fishermen around the UK to celebrate the restaurant’s suppliers.

Read more HERE

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