Thursday, 17 July 2014

Salt-Baked Fish

This may seem barbaric to you, but when I was small I loved eating fish eyeballs. My Chinese grandmother would encourage me to eat it, and little me would just pick out the eyes with my chopsticks and suck on that gelatinous blob with great satisfaction and spit out the white iris or whatever it was. I also ate chicken feet – gnawed on those things like chicken wings. Again, because of the Chinese grandmother. Now I cringe at the thought of eating either. This dish brings back these memories for in China you would always serve the fish whole. In the West if you order a salt-baked fish for instance, the waiter would show you the fish whole. then take it to the side, fillet it and serve it to you. That’s the standard procedure. However, the other evening I went to a dreadful restaurant in Rome, which I will not name because I’m nice, and the waiter just left me with the big platter of salt baked fish. He came, showed it to me, I looked at the waiter, giving him my sign of approval – “Yes it’s beautiful, you may fillet it for me” my eyes said. Yet he just put it in front of me and left. I was puzzled and embarrassed, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with it. So I was there with my fish knife and my fork and I gently tapped the crust and nothing happened. Then I tapped with some force and coarse sea salt went everywhere. Obviously I’m inept, Sir, especially with this stupid fish knife, my eyes said, as the waiter shot a judgmental glance at me. Then he asked if I’d like him to fillet it and I said yes please and he did. At the end it was a good piece of fish, it’s hard to mess up salt-baked fish. However, the restaurant overall was just meh.
 So I made this dish at home and my heart ached as I made it because it felt like such a waste of salt. 1kg of salt! That’s a lot of f*cking salt. That’s salt that lasts me a year or more. If you’ve never had salt-baked fish, don’t worry, the end result isn’t salty at all (unless you don’t know what you’re doing and you try to fillet it while it’s still sitting on the bed of salt then the salt would get on the flesh and you’d be biting on chunks of salt and it’s not pleasant at all). The salt traps all the heat and flavor inside so you essentially steam the fish in its own juices and wonderfulness.

Recipe from Jamie Oliver
1kg coarse sea salt
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1 large white fish (600g)

Preheat the oven to the highest temperature. Stuff the cavity of the fish with sprigs of parsley. Mix the salt with the eggs, lemon zest and 2 tbsp of water. Put down a layer of salt on a large baking tray, then place the fish on top and completely cover with salt – at least 1cm.  Bake for 15 minutes, then take out and leave for 10 minutes before cracking open the salt crust.  

"By now the salt on your fish should be hard as a brick, so give it a whack around the edges with the back of a spoon, and if you're lucky, the whole top will peel off. Carefully brush the excess salt off your fish, trying not to let the salt touch the flesh, then gently move it to a platter using a fish slice. Run a knife along the spine of the fish up to the head, then cut across the fish below the head. Use the knife to find the bones, then carefully lift the fillet up so the fish opens like a book. Discard the skin and bones and put beautiful big flakes of fish on your serving plates"

No comments:

Post a Comment

© Design by Neat Design Corner