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Salt-Baked Sea Bass
© Quentin Bacon

Salt-Baked Sea Bass

  • SERVINGS: 4
  • FAST

This recipe was created by chef Terrance Brennan of Manhattan's Picholine. The crust seals in moisture and adds flavor.

  1. Two 2-pound whole sea bass or red snappers, cleaned and scaled
  2. Freshly ground pepper
  3. 8 sprigs each thyme, parsley and basil, plus 1/4 cup shredded basil
  4. 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  5. 1 cup (3 ounces) each fennel seeds, dill seeds and coriander seeds, toasted
  6. 9 cups kosher salt (about 3 pounds)
  7. 2 cups water
  8. 1 tomato—peeled, seeded, minced
  9. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  10. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  11. Table salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 475°. Season the fish inside and out with pepper. Divide the thyme, parsley and basil sprigs and garlic between the fish cavities; close the cavities with bamboo skewers. In a bowl, combine the fennel, dill and coriander seeds with the salt and water. On a very large rimmed baking sheet, make 2 shallow piles with half of the salt mixture. Set each fish on a pile and cover completely with the remaining salt, pressing to adhere.
  2. Bake the fish for about 30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 130° in the thickest part of the fish.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the tomato, olive oil and lemon juice and shredded basil; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Using a small hammer or the back of a heavy knife, break the crust. Brush off any salt on the fish. Lift the fish from the bones onto plates and serve with the sauce.