Sea Bream cooked in sea salt (Orata al sale)
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- 1 Sea Bream of about 500 g (1.1 lb) weight
- 1 Rosemary sprig
- 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) Coarse salt About the salt: a small size fish fitting into a small size oven dish will probably require less salt, vice versa one big fish or two fish into a large oven dish will probably require double the quantity of salt. Try all the different options so that you will know exactly how much salt to use.
- Extra virgin olive oil for seasoning
- Clean the fish belly, rinse it thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper. DO NOT REMOVE THE SCALES.
- Lay some salt in the bottom of the oven dish to make a bed, I would say about 5 mm (3/16") thick.
- Put the rosemary sprig into the belly.
- Add few drops of olive oil inside the belly. You can also put in some finely chopped garlic but I suggest doing this the next time you cook this recipe and then you can taste the difference.
- Close the fish belly so that when you cover it with salt, the salt will not go inside.
- Cover with salt.
- The fish should disappear under a layer of salt. Use just enough salt to cover the whole fish, no more no less. Pre-heat the oven at 200°C (400°F) and then put the oven dish in the oven for about 30 minutes.
- As a rough guide, the fish is cooked when the salt makes a hard crust and the colour of the salt is not white anymore but a kind of light grey/brown. Also, a nice smell will suddenly spread through your kitchen.
- Then remove the oven dish carefully from the oven because it will be very hot. Start breaking the crust around the fish shape with the point of a knife.
- Do not go too deeply with the knife because we do not want to damage the fish. Then, gently try to make a small hole on the top and continue to enlarge the hole step by step until you can see that you can lift pieces of crust away.
- There you go! You can see the crust and also you can see that the fish skin does not stick at all and protects the fish meat.
- When you have freed the fish, put the fish onto a plate and discard the remaining salt.
- Now, take the fish meat and with a knife remove the few salt grains you may find nearby. Put the meat in another dish as shown in the next picture.
- Sprinkle with few drops of olive oil and serve it.