“I always wanted to try baking fish in salt after seeing it done on TV, but it’s one of those things that you never seem to get round to. But when the fish counter at the supermarket had a deal on last week Sea Bream I decided to seize the day (‘carp’e-diem?). The result was a fish with firm but moist milky white flesh flavoured with a mild saltiness and infused with
Lemon and herbs. Served with some punchy Ailoi it’s both a perfect centrepiece for a Tapas spread, or great served on its own alongside some buttery new potatoes and green veg.”
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2 on their own, or up to 6 when served with other Tapas dishes
Ingredients – Sea Bream:
2 whole sea bream, gutted
1kg coarse sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Small bunch of parsley
4 sprigs of rosemary
Ingredient – Ailoi:
4 cloves of garlic
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp lemon juice
175ml extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.
Take each fish and drizzle the juice of half a lemon into the cavity. Next, stuff each fish with half the parsley and 2 sprigs of rosemary.
Pour half of the salt into a deep dish big enough to accommodate both fish. Lay the fish on top and then pour over the remaining salt ensuring that the fish are completely buried. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
While the fish is cooking, there’s time to make the Ailoi. Mince the garlic clove into a pestle and mortar and add a pinch of sea salt (this will make grinding the garlic a little easier). Grind the garlic into a smooth paste and then add the egg yolk. Continue to combine the garlic and egg in the pestle and mortar before adding the lemon juice. To make it into something more closely resembling mayonnaise, slowly add the oil while continuing to mix with the pestle and mortar. When the oil has been used up you should have a thick, silky yellow Aioli. Season to taste and serve alongside the sea bream.
When the sea bream has cooked, remove it from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Gently chip away the upper crust of salt until the fish are revealed. Lift them out gently and put them onto a large plate. To serve, peel back the skin (it should come away with no effort), revealing the soft flesh underneath which will come away from the bone easily with a fork.