Posted on December 18, 2013 by CJ Jackson

There has been some beautiful wild bass on the market this week - and inspired by Raymond Blanc’s cookery programme this week – I am going to cook Salted Baked Bass for this weekend for friends.

Raymond created a ‘salt meringue’ to encase a leg of lamb and I did cook that last night for my family… with loads of rosemary and slivered garlic – and it was so moist and flavoured and not at all salty that I was reminded just how wonderful a whole bass traditionally roasted in a similar way was… so when I saw the bass today – I planned my weekend.

For the recipe you will need a 1 – 2kg seabass that has been trimmed and gutted, but not scaled… the scales protect the fish from taking in too much salt and lift off when the crust is peeled away. Salt meringue for crust… see below… and then a handful of rosemary leaves and 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced.  To serve: aioli and lemon wedges.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Lay a sheet of aluminium foil on a large baking sheet.

For the meringue I separated 4 eggs and put the whites into a clean metal bowl. Whisk the egg whites until firm and then with the beaters still on full whisk in around 200g salt, a little at a time until the meringue is firm.

Spread a layer of the meringue on the foil and sprinkle with some rosemary and garlic. Lay the fish on top and sprinkle with remaining rosemary and garlic. Spread the top and sides of the fish with the remaining meringue mixture to ensure it is completely covered. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at which time the crust will be caramel coloured. Remove the fish from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. If you are concerned that the fish isn’t cooked insert a metal skewer through the crust into the fish, leave it for 30 seconds and then remove. The tip of the skewer will be piping hot when the fish is cooked.

Slide the salt fish onto a large serving, crack open the crust and lift this onto a side plate. Peel away the skin and portion the bass. I served mine with aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and lemon wedges. The fish will be lovely and moist and is best served with plain steamed potatoes and seasonal vegetable and salad.

I made my own aioli using the egg yolks from the separated eggs… so they don’t go to waste. I use a hand blender. Put the room temperature egg yolks and 1 extra whole egg and the bottom of a plastic jug. Add seasoning and a decent pinch of mustard. Place the whizzing blade on top of the egg yolks and then (and only then) pour over 275mls rape seed oil.  Turn the machine on and whiz at a stationary position until the mayonnaise thickens at the base of the jug, then gradually tilt and tip the whizzing blade to incorporate more oil and finally slowly lift the blade up and down in the jug until all the oil is blended… the whole process takes around 60 seconds, but do this too fast or with cold ingredients it is likely to ‘split/curdle’. Season the mayo with 2 – 3 crushed (raw or cooked) garlic cloves, lemon zest and lemon juice or white wine vinegar. To make this lighter mix stir in some fromage frais or half fat crème fraiche.

Happy eating…


CJ Jackson