Step by step recipe:
- 8 min.Prepare your whole fish (cleaned by the fishmonger, but no need to remove scales): wash the inside thoroughly to remove any traces of blood.
It is better to use a whole fish, but if this is not the case, as in the photos, you will see how to allow for this later.
- 3 min.Dry the inside of the fish with absorbent paper and fill the cavity with thin slices of lemon and the herbs of your choice (parsley, thyme, bay, etc.). Pepper, but do not salt.
- 1 min.Close the fish well over the stuffing.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).
- 3 min.Spread an even layer of coarse salt ½ cm (¼ inch) a little larger all round than the fish on a baking sheet.
If you are using Guérande sea salt, this is easy to work as it is very slightly damp. But if you are using ordinary white coarse salt, I advise you to humidify it a little with a glass of water.
- 1 min.Place the fish on the bed of salt.
If your fish no longer has its head, seal the end with a small piece of aluminum foil. It is important to do this, or your fish will be too salty.
- 1 min.Insert the probe of the thermometer into the centre of the thickest part of the fish.
- 5 min.Then cover the fish completely with more salt until you can no longer see it (apart from the tail).
- 30 min.Bake in the oven until the thermometer reads 60°C (140°F), at which moment the fish will be perfectly cooked.
Heat the serving plates.
- 3 min.Break open the salt crust...
- 3 min....and lift off the fish skin, which should be easy to remove now.
If possible, scrape off and discard the brown part, indicated by the arrow, which is not good to eat.
- 10 min.Remove all the flesh (watch out for bones) and arrange on the serving plates beside the stuffing.
Serve immediately with just a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil with herbs, or a more sophisticated sauce, such as a Béarnaise.
The choice of fish is up to you, depending on what you can find at your fishmonger's. In the photos I am using line-caught sea bass. Almost any fish will work, but salmon and sea bream are particularly good.
If you do not have a thermometer, your can calculate the cooking time by the weight of the fish: 1kg = 30 to 40 minutes cooking.