The second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (After Sicily), Sardinia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The land, the people, the food–all will grab your heart and call you to return again and again. Outside of Costa Smeralda where the rich and famous moor their yachts and swim in the unbelievably blue waters, Sardinia is generally a humble place. You won’t see many 5-star hotels lining the coastline and obscuring the view, although the beaches are among the most beautiful in the world. For me, the best of Sardinia is all about wandering the small towns after a heavenly day at the beach.
We have enjoyed some of our best meals here. During our first trip, my husband and our friends ordered a salt-baked fish at the restaurant of the Costa Dorada Hotel in Cala Gonone. When the waiter came out to serve the dish–proceeding to crack open the salt crust and unearthing the juicy, tender, meaty treasure inside–my companions were rightfully impressed. The fish was sweet, delicious, not salty at all. The salt creates a shell to steam the fish and seal in the moisture. I had seen a recipe in one of my cookbooks before but I’d never tried it. Of course, since my husband loved it so, I was motivated serve this to him once we returned home. I have made this several times now and it’s never disappointed. This was dinner tonight and I served it with sauteed spinach and Italian Salsa Verde, one of the easiest, most versatile sauces you can prepare. In fact, it warrants its own post, so stay tuned.
- Whole Striped Bass cleaned and scaled, about 1 1/2 – 2 lbs
- Approx. 3 cups sea salt
- Few Sprigs Rosemary
- Few Slices lemon
- Olive Oil (to rub on fish)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. To prepare for baking, create a “bed” for the fish using some of the sea salt. Rub some olive oil on the fish and lay it on the the salt “bed”. Stuff the cavity with rosemary and lemon slices. Use the rest of the sea salt to cover the fish. Remember how you used to “bury” your little brother or sister with sand at the beach, patting the sand to “set” it around the hapless kid? Same idea here. Just be careful not to get any salt on the meat. Don’t worry, it’s not hard to do.
Bake in the oven for about 22-25 minutes. I always use the convection feature in my oven, mainly so I don’t forget that I have something cooking. This dish is not very strict, so a couple of minutes, more or less, will be fine. Once finished, the salt will have created a crust that you can easily crack. I usually use two large forks to pry the crust from the fish and carefully remove the meat. Done.