Salt Crusted Snapper with Fennel

On Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Ingredients

  • 1 snapper (about 2kg), scaled and cleaned
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 8 small baby fennel, trimmings reserved
  • 4 eggwhites
  • 1 kg coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lemons, halved
  • Pinch fennel pollen, or to taste (optional, see note)

Preparation method

Serves 8

Prep time 20 mins, cook 30 mins (plus resting)

“A whole fish baked in salt brings a wonderful drama to the table. We recently came across fennel pollen and have fallen in love with this fragrant spice – it combines remarkably well with the fish.”

Preheat oven to 220C. Pat snapper inside and out with absorbent paper to dry, then lay on a large sheet of baking paper. Stuff fish cavity with garlic, bay leaves and fennel trimmings. Enclose fish in baking paper, leaving head and tail protruding.

Whisk eggwhites in a bowl until soft peaks form, then stir through sea salt. Scatter enough salt mixture over base of a roasting pan or ovenproof platter large enough to fit fish snugly, leaving head and tail portruding. Place wrapped fish on top of salt and cover with remaining salt mixture. Bake until fish is cooked through (25-30 minutes), remove from oven and rest for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat a char-grill over medium-high heat. Brush fennel with olive oil, then grill, turning occasionally until just tender (10-15 minutes). Transfer to a roasting pan, season to taste and roast until tender and caramelised (10-15 minutes). Add lemons to grill and cook, flesh-side down, until caramelised and juice is warm (3-5 minutes).

To serve, crack open salt crust, open paper parcel, season fish to taste with fennel pollen and serve immediately with fennel and lemons.

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