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Salt-baked Fish

First try this recipe for two to see how you like it and perfect the technique. Wasn't that fun? Now repeat the dish for company. To serve 4, buy a four-pound fish, use twice as much of everything and cook twice as long. Use any fish that has a rather thick skin, won't fall apart easily and isn't too oily; tuna and salmon are too oily. A garlic mayonnaise on the side is a good partner.

3 or more cups coarse salt such as kosher salt
3 egg whites, about 1/2 cup
1 2-pound fish such as sea bass, branzino or porgy, cleaned but with head and tail intact
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs parsley
1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed
2 slices lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the salt and egg whites and mix until the mixture looks like wet sand.

Rinse fish and pat dry. Stuff the cavity of the fish with the herbs, garlic and lemon slices.

Working directly on a baking sheet, pack the outside tightly with the salt mixture. (You can also make a bed of salt, place the fish on top and cover and pack salt around it.)

Bake fish in the middle of the oven until the salt begins to turn golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Place on a serving dish.

Bring the dish to the table to be seen. Then give the crust a conk with a mallet or handle of a kitchen knife. Brush away the salt and discard.

Carefully filet the fish (removing the skin) and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Adapted from The New York Times

Thursday, July 05, 2001

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