Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Salt-baked whole fish with Meyer lemons

This is a great way to cook fish, and looks really pretty for a dinner party or something. Caveat: make it for people who don't care about the final presentation, as it's tricky to pull off clean fillets. For me, anyway. When the fish was done, I ended up with a plate full of fish pieces. Which, fine, they taste just as good, but clearly I'm going to need some practice in table-side fish dissection.

The fish doesn't taste salty at all--the salt forms a crust on the outside of the fish, locking in moisture. The fish turns out really tasty and juicy, and the salt crust cracks right off when it's done.

Take a whole fish, any kind, head, tail and skin still on. Rinse and pat dry.

Line a big roasting pan with kosher salt (you'll need a couple of pounds of kosher salt, total) and a couple bay leaves, like so:

Then lay the fish in there.

(This is a haddock, btw.)

Quarter a Meyer lemon, and stuff the inside cavity with the quarters.

Isn't that cute?

Then pour more salt over the fish, like so:

Bake at 400 for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the fish. This one was pretty big, probably at least 2.5 or 3 pounds.

When it's done, it'll look like this:

...which is pretty much exactly the same. Crack off the salt, peel back the top layer of fish, and remove to a plate. Grab the tail and pull toward the head--the tail, skeleton and head will all come off at once. Drop that into the trash can. This is what it looks like after that:

Then remove the bottom layer of fish to a plate.

There. Done. Juicy, fresh, whole fish with a minimum of effort. Squeeze more lemon juice over, and enjoy.

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