SALT-ENCRUSTED BRANZINO AL SALE
2 pounds kosher salt 1 cup water 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon best-quality/extravirgin olive oil, divided 1 3-pound whole branzino, cleaned with head and tail intact 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 3 bay leaves, preferably fresh 10 sprigs fresh thyme 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley 2 lemons, one sliced and one cut in wedges, divided
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of foil. To prepare salt crust: Combine salt, water and herbs de Provence in a bowl, mix until it’s the consistency of wet sand. Spread half the salt mixture on the prepared baking sheet in a rectangle just larger than the fish. To prepare fish: Open the fish and season the inside with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Then add a layer of half the herbs, a layer of the lemon slices and then of the remaining herbs. Place the branzino on the rectangle of salt. Pat the remaining salt mixture over the fish to cover completely.
Bake the fish for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes. Using a large spoon, rap all around the edge of the salt crust to loosen it. Remove the salt top and carefully remove the skin. Use an offset spatula to remove the top fillet from the bones and transfer to a warmed serving plate (wipe away any stray salt). Use the spatula to lift away the bottom fillet and place it on the plate. Gently scrape off the herbs and lemon slices. Drizzle the fillets with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve immediately. MELOGRANO ITALIAN GOURMET 5971 Silver King Blvd., Cape Coral; 239-214-6444, melogranomarket.com