Many of the recipes that Italian’s are most fond of are the simplest ones, like pasta al pomodoro e basilico (pasta with tomato sauce and basil), caprese di bufala (buffalo mozzarella topped with tomatoes) and carpaccio grana e rucola (thinly sliced raw meat with arugula salad and Parmesan cheese). In this recipe, you are going to learn how to make branzino al sale. This is a recipe to prepare with very little effort. You will get a perfectly cooked, moist and optimally salted white fish dish for four people. This recipe is not as widespread as the ones mentioned above, yet it is just as simple and is a phenomenal way to impress your guests with a truly Italian gourmet dish.
Branzino (Sea bass) approx. 1kg
Sea salt (coarse salt or kosher salt) 1.5kg
Extra virgin olive oil
Start by preheating the oven to 200 °C (400 °F). While you wait for the oven to reach the temperature clean the entire 1kg fish, leaving head and tail intact. On a flat oven pan create a ½ inch bed of salt on which you will lay the fish. Position the fish on the salt bed, cover it entirely with salt and place it in the oven for 40 min.*
Remove from the oven and let it cool for approximately 5 min. At this point, you may want to show your guests the fish still encrusted in the salt. Break the salt crust carefully and avoid the salt crumbs from getting into the fish, which at this stage is still entirely covered by its skin. Remove the fish from the salt and place it on a serving platter. Sprinkle it with some freshly chopped parsley, a little extra virgin olive oil and place a few wedges of lemon for your guests to squeeze on it themselves.
Accompanied by some simple greens and a glass of chilled white wine. This easy dish will be a big hit every time.
*The cooking time varies according to the size of the fish. 4min. for every 100gr of weight will give you a perfectly cooked fish, any more will make it dry.
Recipe by Pietro Regalini, Easy Milano Editorial Staff