Salt Baked Sea Bass
Seafood is paramount in Catalan cooking! That is why I wanted to serve some whole fish for our Catalan dinner. This simple and beautiful recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner, but is also impressive enough for any feast! Simply stuff the cleaned, intact fish with a few sprigs of rosemary and encrust them in a mixture of egg whites, salt, bay leaves and thyme. So delicious!
My recipe is for 3 1 1/2 pound fish, we were serving 12, but if you have a smaller party, feel free to lower the number of fish. We had several dishes going so this served 12 perfectly, but if you are serving this as the main dish, I think it will satisfy 8.
The light and flaky fish pairs beautifully with a citrus filled salad. Fresh orange slices, pickled red onions or shallots, and radicchio also give a bit more color to the dish.
This is my first time combining these two dishes, but I can see myself making this dish over and over during the summer. It was a total win! The fish disappeared so quickly.
One note of caution, use large grained salt (I use Himalayan pink salt), and make sure to brush it off of the fish before flaking the flesh. Eating large chunks of salt is not too appetizing!
Ever since our trip to Barcelona last December, I have been planning and daydreaming about cooking Catalan food for our friends. After a month of menu-planning and experiments, I was ready!
We had a bunch of friends over for a four course Catalan dinner this Saturday, and I think it was one of our best efforts. In traditional Spanish fashion, we did not want to serve the main course until late, so we served the courses slowly and did not finish dessert before midnight. Doesn’t everyone love a good 5 hour dinner every once in a while?
I loved eating Manchengo and Iberico Ham in Barcelona, so I made sure to include them in our first course, with an assortment of olives, of course! We had the opportunity to try a variety of fish stews in Barcelona. The weather was scheduled to be quite chilly this weekend, so a stew sounded just right, I decided to serve it on toasted Ciabatta with our Catalan Sardines on Toast with Susquet. Seafood is a really important element in Catalan dishes, since the Northern Spain region harvests seafood and relies on it.
To keep the seafood starters going, we also served Mussels in Escabeche, a mixture of seafood, veggies, and acid. Delicious!
For our second course, I am proud to say that we hosted our own traditional Calçotada! Calçots are similar to green onions and leeks and are in season in the Catalan region for a short time during the winter. From January to April, Catalans feast and celebrate these mild green onions by grilling them up on a fire and serving them with a delicious Romesco sauce made of fire roasted peppers, tomatoes, almonds, and toasted bread.
Our main course, served at 10:30pm in Spanish fashion was a pretty impressive effort, if I do say so myself. We had a Rabbit and Artichoke Paella, a Squid Ink Rice with Prawns, an Escalivada of beautiful veggies, and Sea Bass roasted in a salt shell served with a delicious citrusy salad of Oranges, Radicchio and Pickled Red Onions.
At midnight, we finished our meal with a traditional Crema Catalana, a Brazo de Gitano filled with Persimmon Jam and Whipped Cream, and a simple but delicious Homemade Fresh Cheese with Honey (Mel & Mato).
I am incredibly proud of this meal and look forward to sharing the rest of the recipes with you in the coming days, so stay tuned and enjoy the Mussels in Escabeche recipe below!
- salt sea bass:
- 4 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
- 20 sprigs of thyme, leaves
- 4-5 cups coarse sea salt
- 6 sprigs rosemary
- 6-8 bay leaves, crushed a bit
- 3 sea bass, 1 1/2 pounds each, cleaned and served intact
- 20 shallots or 4 large red onions, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 4 oranges, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 2 handfuls or so of parsley leaves
- 2 heads radicchio, leaves separated and torn into smaller pieces if too large
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Combine beaten egg whites, salt, thyme, and bay leaves.
Place a layer of salt mixture (a bit under half) on an oven safe sided dish that would fit all three of your fish.
- Pat fish dry and place 2 rosemary sprigs inside the cavity of each fish.
Arrange on the salt layer.
Cover with more salt to completely coat the fish.
- Preheat oven to 350
Bake for about 30-45 minutes until the crust is hardened and spots are a bit golden. If concerned, flake up a bit and check on the fish.
- Meanwhile, heat the vinegars and coriander and honey until simmering. Pour over the shallots/onions in a large metal bowl. Set aside to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Combine the seasoned onions, radicchio, parsley, and oranges in a large bowl.
Add a drizzle of olive oil and enough of the vinegar mixture to coat the salad.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.