Salt-Baked Pesce Per Due with Braised Greens

fish_baked_in_saltServes 2
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour

One 2-pound fish (such as branzino, dorado, or black sea bass)
3 1/2 cups fine sea salt
3 large egg whites
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, stems and leaves separated, leaves chopped, for garnish
2 sprigs rosemary
1 clove garlic
2 slices lemon


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Trace a rough outline of the whole fish on a piece of parchment paper, and cut it out.

In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of the salt and the egg whites with a wooden spoon (the mixture should feel like wet sand).

Place the parsley stems, rosemary, olives, garlic, and lemon slices in the cavity of the fish. Spread the remaining ½ cup salt over a baking tray. Place the cut-out parchment paper on the salt and place the fish on top. Use your hands to cover the whole fish with the salt-and-egg-white mixture, pressing down onto the fish to pack it tightly. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, without turning, until the salt crust is hard and golden brown.

Bring the baking tray to the table. Crack the salt crust with the handle of a knife and peel it away. Use a spoon to break the flesh away along the top side (where it will have begun to pull away from the bone). Slide the spoon under the fillet but over the spine, and lift the fillet onto a dinner plate. Turn the fish over and plate the other fillet. Garnish the fish with the chopped parsley.

Braised Greens
6 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch lardons
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 bunches assorted greens (broccoli rabe, escarole, Swiss chard, kale), rinsed, spun dry and stemmed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, to finish

In a straight-sided sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid, cook the pancetta over a medium flame until browned, about 4 minutes. Spoon all but 2 tablespoons of fat out of the pan, then add the 1/4 cup olive oil and garlic to the pancetta. Cook until the garlic is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the greens and use tongs to toss, coating them with the olive oil and shrinking their volume significantly. Season with the salt and some freshly ground pepper.

Add about 1/4 cup water to the pan, then cover. Cook the greens until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently and add a bit more water as necessary—there should always be about 1/2 inch liquid in the bottom of the pan. As the greens become tender, remove the lid and let the liquid evaporate so the greens are moist but not wet. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked greens to a serving bowl and toss with the 2 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

What is the right amount of whole fish to buy? – figure 2 pounds for two people.

The general rule for cooking fish is 10 minutes per inch of thickness in a 375 to 400 degree F oven. To check for doneness, insert the tip of a paring knife in the thickest part of the fish; if it goes through easily it is done. If you cook fish on the bone you will get more flavor out of the finished dish.


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