It’s been a strange few weeks for me, cooking wise. I’ve been getting back to the food I love, remembering why I ever picked up a whisk in the first place, challenging myself as a cook and remembering the food I fell in love with. If you follow my other blog, you are aware of this shift I’ve taken.
I’m happy, and relived in a way, chasing the Traffic Dragon is exhausting and cooking what I love makes me happy, and for the first time in a while I’m excited to share a dish.
The first time I ever had a salt packed roasted anything was while traveling through Italy as a broke college student. I’d worked three jobs and saved for six months to send myself over seas and had ended up in the small city of Trieste. I’d wandered into a restaurant that was far too fancy for my tiny budget. I saw pesci listed on the menu and just pointed to it. There weren’t any prices on the menu and I just hoped that the fish I order wasn’t too expensive.
What came to my table was a salt packed whole fish on a cart. I panicked for a second and then decided to order a glass of wine and enjoy it. It ended up costing $60, a small travelers fortune, but it was worth it. I lived off bread and cheese for a week, but I’ll never forget that fish.
Lately I’ve been trying to remember food I’ve fallen in love with and that fish came to mind. It’s a classic, old world, technique that isn’t used much in the US, but it’s brilliant at locking in flavor with zero added cooking fat.
I found a video online by Tom Colicchio about salt roasted fish, just like the one I had in Italy. It paired well with the artichokes, and grilling is my absolute favorite way to make artichokes now, something you need to try this summer if you get a chance.
The fish is simple. Just start with a whole fish that’s been gutted. Most markets sell these cheaper than large fillets because there is less labor involved.
Mix the salt and the egg white, make a bed of salt on an oven safe serving platter (or rimmed baking sheet)
Put lemon and herbs in the cavity, then pack the remaining salt around the fish before roasting.
It comes out of the oven a light golden brown and steamed to perfection. Very impressive, and pretty easy.
For the artichokes, just cut them in half down the center
Use a melon baller and a sharp paring knife to remove the hair and the purple leaves, then boil for 25 minutes,
baste with melted butter and grill until you get those beautiful grill marks.
Adapted from Tom Colicchio Master Class: Salt Roasting Fish (video includes tips for serving)