Baking fish in a salt crust is a very popular, traditional Mediterranean method, which does not make the fish taste salty; it simply seals in all the delicious flavour and juices.
1 large gilt-head bream (sea bass, snapper or turbot can also be used)
Coarse salt (you will need about twice the weight of the fish)
6-8 medium boiling potatoes
1 Medium red pepper
1 Small onion
1 Medium aubergine
1 Medium courgette
Ground black pepper
Virgin Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450ºF/200 C
Do not have the fish cleaned or cut, keep it whole, as you do not want the salt leeching into the meat. Entrails can be removed through the gills or simply removed once the fish is cooked. You do not need to scale the fish as the salt will stick to the scales during the cooking process and help with the removal of the skin before serving. Simply rinse it.
Select a baking tray that is a little larger than your fish and fill it with a layer of salt approx. 2-3cm deep. Place the fish on top and cover it with an equally thick layer of salt. Apply a little pressure to the top layer of salt, to ensure the fish is completely enclosed. Reduce the temperature to 180 C. Bake the fish for approx. 1 hour.
Par boil the potatoes and chop them into medium slices. Peel and chop the onion, eggplant and courgette into medium slices. Wash and slice the pepper in thick chunks, removing all seeds. Drizzle the bottom of a baking tray with oil, place all the veg in the tray and drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the mixture. Season with pepper. Place the tray of vegetables below the fish in the oven, keeping an eye that they do not overcook, as they will need less time than the fish.
Once cooked, remove the fish from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Carefully crack the salt crust open along the center of the fish. The skin should remain attached to the crust. Remove the crust one side at a time, taking care not to break it. Gently remove any skin remaining on the fish. Using a spatula, lift away the top fillet of the fish and remove the spine.
Serve immediately with the oven roasted veg.