Sometimes in life, you choose the recipes you cook, and sometimes the recipes choose you.
Case in point, today I woke up hell-bent on making a quinoa dish, but there was fresh fish to be made, so instead, I tackled the effortless Fish Roasted in Salt, Gwyneth and Julia’s version of a Thai style fish recipe.
(Seriously, this was so easy I’m still sort of shocked.)
This recipe is a part of the, surprise surprise, Fish section of the It’s All Good cookbook. It’s one of the only recipes that include not only a description of the techniques used but a rough photographed play by play that makes for a pretty couple of pages.
Pretty? Yes. Particularly educational? No.
I guess I’ll have to do the real play by play. Let’s do this!
This dish has 3 elements:
- The Stuffing
- The Fish
- The Salt
And an optional one:
- The Serving Sauce
Optional Step: The Sauce
Let’s start with this step because you can prepare it and set it aside until serving time.
It’s just soy sauce, lemon, red chili and cilantro mixed together. Nice tasting, nothing fancy. (Overall, we much prefer the Spanish sauce we make, even though it’s heavy on the garlic.)
1. The Stuffing
In a bowl, mix the spices. I put in cilantro, parsley (the recipe specifies “Italian Parsley”, whatever that means), basil, red chili, and chives (substituting scallions, which are not a thing that exists in my country), and lemon (replacing lime, because why use lime when you have lemon? Also, we have a lemon tree in our backyard, so lemons are abundant).
The recipe calls for fresh, but I did a mixed bag. As long as the taste is there, I’m happy!
2. The Fish
Even though you can do this recipe with basically any fish, the recipe specifically calls for sea bass, which is what I used.
Once the fish is clean and set on a bed of sat, you have to stuff the cavities with the spice stuffing.
Then sprinkle it with lemon first, then soy sauce.
3. The Most Important Step: The Salt!
The salt is inarguably the crucial part of this dish. It freaked me out to read I needed 1.5 kg of sea salt, but it really is what it takes to cover a big fish or two smaller ones. You don’t want to skimp on the salt, not when the crust is what makes or breaks this dish.
According to the recipe, you have to mix water with sea salt until you have the coarse consistency of wet sand.
Then you envelop the fish completely in salt until it’s fully enclosed.
And bake it until the crust has fully solidified. Mine baked for 40 minutes in a 200 degree Celcius oven (5 more minutes than the recipe stated).
Ready to be cracked open and eaten!
With or without sauce!
Quick to make (overall it took about 15 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to cook), this recipe is low on effort and high on results: its ingredients may be simple but the end result is delicious. The fish is perfectly seasoned and not dry at all, which is always one of the risks with oven roasting fresh fish, but instead moist and juicy and delicious. I genuinely think I might have found my new favorite way of making fish, which means I should start stocking up on salt now!
Oh and I almost forgot the very best part about this (yes, even better than juicily roasted fish): my kitchen didn’t smell like fish at all when I was done. It was a culinary miracle!
Recipe one and so far so good, Gwyneth and Juliet! So far so good.
I’ll see you in a few when I’ll definitely have that quinoa review for you! It rhymes because it’s true.)