Fish…not a huge fan of it cooked, but I love sushi! I wasn’t really looking forward to this episode but went into it with an open mind. I was however very excited to try out the salt dome recipe. I’ve seen it a few times, and recently on Iron Chef and the method intrigues me.
So where do you find a whole striped bass 5-6lbs. in Las Vegas? No, really I’m asking you cause I couldn’t find one to save my life. Calling Whole Foods and Fish Market after Fish Market, I knew it was time to settle. Seafood City had whole striped bass, but not a 5-6lbs, off we went. It was a very interesting experience…I’ve never seen so many whole fish, heads and parts all on ice for you to choose from. We spotted the Stripped Bass, picked out a big old 2lb one (the biggest they had) and had the gills removed and the fins trimmed, threw him in our cooler in the car and headed home.
I was trying to figure out adjusted cooking time and cutting the recipe in half and finally I just went for it and kind of winged it, something I don’t usually do when cooking. I picked him up, looked him in the eye, and said “Charlie, you’re going in whether you like or not.” Somehow, I now felt in control. Not all the aromatics wanted to fit inside him so I had to…ahem…make them fit. I stuffed him and wrapped him in his warm salt blanket.
Into the oven he went. I stuck in a thermometer and waiting for his internal temperature to hit 130 degrees. He came out looking like this…
Mostly like he did when going in, just a little crisper. Now for the fun part the archaeological dig to extract him from his dome. This was the most exciting part for me. I thought, it’s never going to come out like Alton’s, I was absolutely mistaken! I cracked him open gently with a small hammer and removed the top of the dome. Then it was on to peeling off the skin.
I was so amazed, it just came right off, just like Alton said. I carefully cut around the head and easily pulled up the meat on the top of the bones. Then I picked up the tail and slowly stared lifting toward the head. If your squeamish, don’t look down 🙂
Taste wise it was not the greatest, it was a little to fishy for us non-fish lovers, but I’m not going to knock it because I know there’s a lot of people out there that would love this! It was a new and exciting way to cook something and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I will never doubt Alton’s culinary instructions again!
There are two more recipes in this episode, but I felt this recipe deserved a post of it’s own. I’ll get to the other ones a little later on. I recommend giving this recipe a try if you love fish and even if you don’t.
Striped Bass in Salt Dome
* 1 striped bass, 5 to 6 pounds, gills removed, fins trimmed (Or 2lbs in my case)
* 4 egg whites
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 (3 pound) boxes of kosher salt
* 1 handful parsley
* 1 fennel bulb, (with stem) quartered
* Several sprigs thyme
* 1 lemon, sliced thin
* 1/2 orange, sliced thin
* Olive oil
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet large enough to hold the fish with parchment paper.
Rinse fish inside and out with cold water and drain. Dry with paper towels. Stuff body cavity with herbs and citrus, saving a few lemon slices for garnish. Set aside.
Pour 1 box of salt into a large bowl, add egg whites and water, then the second box of salt. Use your hands to work mixture to a mortar-like consistency. Lay down a 1/2-inch thick bed for the fish to lay on with a 1-inch clearance on all sides. Lay the fish on this bed and pile the remainder of the salt mortar on top. Work into a smooth dome completely encasing the fish. (Don’t worry if the head or tail poke out a little.)
Cook approximately 35 minutes. Check for doneness by pushing the probe of an instant read thermometer through the salt into the fish. When temperature reaches 130 degrees, remove from oven, and rest at room temperature for 5 minutes. Open the fish at the table by hitting the dome several times with a small hammer and lifting off the slabs of salt. Brush away any stray salt. Gently pull out dorsal (back) fin. Using a fish knife or serrated pie server, make a single incision all the way down the back of the fish and around the gill plate. Then lift the skin off working from the head to the tail. Remove meat from top side of fish, going down one side of the spine then the other. Grasp the tail and remove the skeleton, (it should come up intact). The meat revealed below will slide right off the skin.
Sprinkle meat with a little virgin oil and lemon juice. Serve immediately.
Recipe Courtesy of FoodNetwork.com