Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Upper crust

Baking or roasting fish in salt is as old as, well, salt. The technique is dramatic in presentation as well as results. Yes, do try this at home.

There are all sorts of elegant ways to prepare fish,baked with tomatoes, pan fried, breaded, grilled, but if the fish is absolutely top quality and very fresh, one of the nicest ways to cook it is in salt: the salt seals it, keeping the juices from escaping as it cooks, while the skin keeps the salt from penetrating the fish. The result is extraordinarily tasty and tender.
Baking in salt is not difficult. Here in the Algarve it is commonplace in beach restaurants to see a waiter working table-side. The salt crust is cracked and removed with a flourish. Inside the white crust lies perfectly cooked, moist and fragrant fish, awaiting the diner´s delectation. Baking fish (or vegetables, even other meats) in a salt crust creates a sort of oven within an oven. The salt seals in moisture essentially steaming the fish inside. Because the salt absorbs the moisture, the texture of the fish ultimately is more like roasted than steamed fish.

Potatoes cooked in a salt crust
  • 2 kg ( 4pounds) medium-small potatoes
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 pounds coarse salt
Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F . Scrub the potatoes but don´t peel them. make sure they are completely dry. Place the rosemary over the bottom of an ovenproof dish and add the potatoes in a single layer. Pack the potatoes together closely and pour over just enough salt to cover them. Do not shake the dish, you do not want too much salt under the potatoes. Bake for about 45 min, or until they are tender to a knife point. Brush off the salt, split in two and serve immediately with lashings of really good Extra virgin olive oil.
Slow cooking gives the best results, but the potatoes can be cooked at higher temperature (max 230 C/450 F ) for a shorter time. They keep warm for a long time under the salt crust, so you can prepare them up to one hour in advance.

Sea Bream baked in a salt crust

1 x 450g sea bream
1kg /2lb 3oz coarse sea salt
3 sprigs rosemary


Pre-heat the oven to 200C / 400F Gas mark 6
Get your fish monger to scale and gut the fish
  1. Place a layer of sea salt in the bottom of a roasting tin large enough to hold the fish comfortably.

  2. Dry the scaled, gutted fish with kitchen paper. Stuff the body cavity with fresh rosemary sprigs.

  3. Lay the fish on top of the salt, then cover the fish with the remaining sea salt. The fish should be completely enclosed by the salt. Sprinkle a bit of water on top of the salt (this will help it to form a crust).

  4. Place the roasting pan in the preheated oven and cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Break the salt crust with a palette knife. Using a pastry brush, remove the salt crystals from the surface of the fish and from around the fish.

  6. Using a fish slice, carefully remove the fish from the salt and place onto a serving plate. Carefully remove the fish skin and fins.

  7. Serve with lemon wedges.


1 comment:

  1. it's always good to see that our work is recognized by the others. Thanks and Good Luck for Your project. Jorge

    ReplyDelete