Salt crusted fish with Mediterranean salad

Print Recipe

4 sprigs of fresh oregano
8 sprigs of fresh dill
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (250g net)
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium pollocks, sea breams or red mullets, scaled and gutted (800g net)
1kg coarse rock salt
Salad
2 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice (1.3kg net)
150ml light olive oil, for frying
2 tomatoes, cut into 1½ cm dice (200g net)
2 small courgettes, cut into 2cm dice (290g net)
1 small onion, finely diced (80g net)
2 long green peppers, cut into 2cm dice (360g net)
4 anchovies , finely chopped
120g green olives, pitted and torn
60g samphire (blanched if very salty)
10g basil, torn
5g oregano, finely chopped
10g dill, torn
10g mint, roughly chopped
10g tarragon leaves
50ml lemon juice
75ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper

Consider making this salad even if you are not cooking the fish. It has a wonderful balance of fresh and cooked vegetables and makes perfect sense at the height of summer-early autumn, when these vegetables are at their peak. Oh, and do try this cooking method for fish when you’re feeling a little adventurous. You’d get the most tender flesh, I guarantee. Serves four

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C.
First make the salad. Place the aubergine in a colander, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, stir and leave for 30 minutes to release some of the water. Shake well to get rid of any excess liquid and then dry with a kitchen towel. Put the olive oil in a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the aubergine in batches – you don’t want to overcrowd the pan – and fry for about 5 minutes, turning from time to time, until the cubes are golden-brown on all sides. Remove and set aside on some kitchen paper to drain, with another pinch of salt, and repeat with the remaining aubergine.
Once the aubergine is cool, transfer to a large salad bowl and add all the remaining ingredients for the salad. Add ¾ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper; mix gently and set aside.
For the fish, place the oregano, dill, fennel, lemon slices and oil in a small bowl. Mix together and then stuff the mixture inside the cavity of both fish. Place half of the coarse salt in two long heaps on an oven tray. Wipe both fish dry with kitchen paper and place each on top of one heap of salt. Top both fish with the remaining salt until they completely covered. Sprinkle with a little water, to help the crust form, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Gently crack open the salt to reveal the fish. Use a pastry brush to remove all the pieces of the salt and then remove the skin off the flesh. Use a palate knife to gently move the fish to a large platter and serve alongside the salad.

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