Oh man, y’all, I am EXHAUSTED. I know I can’t complain, I was retired for six months, I had plenty of time to rest up, but this sudden change in schedule has rocked my world. Work is awesome, but the days are LONG, and I am beat at the end of them. On top of that until recently, it has been too hot to eat, never mind cook, so that has left you, little blog, high and dry. But I am BACK!
Before I get to food though, I just want to share a couple of things I am currently obsessed with:
The penguin ice bucket my mom bought me the other day when we were at this giant antique fair/flea market thing. It matches the one that my parents had at their house when we were growing up, which is actually the one my mom had in her house growing up. It’s very cute and retro and I can’t wait to have people over so I can put ice in it.
The new Eminem song with Rhianna. It might have a totally reprehensible message, I can’t quite tell yet, but it is really catchy and really fantastic and I want to listen to it 800 times in a row. Consider yourself lucky you are not my roommate.
My sweatpants. I pulled them out of the bin last night and I didn’t even realize how much I had missed them.
The superman/banana. It’s this move on the core dvd of P90X and I just love it for some reason. I can’t get enough. Even though after I do it I am unable to rise from a reclining position like a normal person and I have to roll over onto my hands a knees to do things like grabbing the remote.
My sewing machine. While I was ignoring you, I did some sewing, and I made these:
I am a sewing fool.
And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, my living room. I made some changes. I acquired a sectional through the adopt a couch program, and it forced me to rearrange some furniture. Somehow, in spite of replacing two smaller pieces of furniture with an incredibly giant piece of furniture, there is more floor space and the room feels bigger. Plus, it’s a sectional. People, do you have a sectional? Because you really really should get one. What a delight. It makes me resent my parents a little for not having one when we were growing up. True story. Sorry guys.
Umm, pardon me, but I am watching Monday Night Football (note: that was written on Monday, I didn’t tape it or anything) and somebody said that one of the guys reached a max speed of 22 mph during the game yesterday. Does that maybe seem a little impossible? Crazy. Also, there are halftime shows at Monday Night Football now? Is Green Day running short on cash?
So anyway, what were we talking about? Food? Right. Mesdames and Messieurs, I tried to come back to you with a bang. I made something the other night that I want you to make right away. But don’t get alarmed when I tell you what it is. Hear me out. It involves a whole fish and a box of salt. And actually, that’s pretty much all it involves. That, and some egg whites and optional herbs of your choice. It is salt roasted fish and it is a revelation. And really really easy.
It all starts like this.
The ladies of Mercato del Mare have chosen to enjoy their September Sundays like normal humans, so they have been closed the last couple of Sundays, which means I didn’t feel too guilty when I saw the branzini at Whole Foods and had to pick one up. It was about a pound and a quarter, if I recall correctly, and it cost about eleven dollars. A little note: I ate the entire thing. Had I made a starch to serve with it, it potentially could have served two girls, but to be safe, you would probably want two of these or one larger fish for two people. I am guessing a snapper would serve two, but these guys are little. And the lovely gentleman at Whole Foods gutted and scaled the fish for me, so it really couldn’t have been easier.
I looked in a couple of places to find a recipe or method for baking this, and to be totally honest, I can’t for the life of me remember where I found it. Have I mentioned I’m tired? NO! I lied! I remember. NPR. It was from the NPR website. Good thing I remembered, because I couldn’t remember how many egg whites to tell you to use. It was four. I would have remembered. Essentially, I sliced a lemon and grabbed some thyme from Auntie Ann’s garden and a couple of bay leaves, sprinkled on some salt and pepper, and that was about the extent of the fish prep. I whisked together 4 large egg whites with a half cup of water until it was foamy and getting bigger, and then I added 4 cups of coarse kosher salt. It felt like wet sand. I laid about a cup of the mixture down on a cookie sheet, put two bay leaves on top of it, and then laid the fish on top of that.
The rest of the salt mixture goes on top so the fish is totally encased, and then it gets baked for a half hour. When it’s finished, you crack the crust and take the top off, and the fish is moist and perfect and so unbelievably delicious. I served it over sauteed swiss chard from Auntie Ann’s garden and finished it with a beurre blanc. And I ate the whole thing. And it was gooooood.
And since this has taken almost a month, I am just going to post this as is. Because if I don’t, who knows when it would happen. But I leave you with these final thoughts.
I am back in SCHOOL! Yay! One night a week I get to go and do some larnin’ about real estate and mortgages and debt and equity. And I LOVE it. I am such a nerd.
You know how sometimes in those romantic comedies the stories are so crazy far fetched that you think there is no way that could ever happen and no one would believe it if you said it happened to you? Sometimes that is how I feel about my life.
Salt Roasted Fish (serves 1 or 2 depending on the size of the fish and how hungry you are)
1 whole fish, 1.5 to 2 lbs, gutted and scaled, fins and gills removed. I used branzini, red snapper would be great too.
4 egg whites
1/2 cup water
4 cups coarse kosher salt
4 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 thin slices lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Whisk the egg whites and water in a large bowl until very frothy and about doubled in volume. Pour in the salt and mix well with your hands. You are going for something the consistency of wet sand. If crust seems dry, add a few more tablespoons water.
Pat out 1 cup of the crust mixture on the baking sheet into the size and shape of your fish. Lay two bay leaves on the salt, and set the fish on top, sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper, and stuff with the thyme and lemon slices and cover with the remaining crust mix. Wet your hands and pat the crust all over, smoothing it out and making sure the fish is completely sealed.
Roast smaller fish for 30 minutes, the salt crust will be golden.
Remove the fish from the oven and crack the crust along the sides with the back of a big spoon. Lift the crust up off the fish. Let the fish cool for a few minutes, then peel off the skin. Slide the top fillet off the bones and serve. Grab the tail and lift up the bones. Lift the remaining fillet off the bottom crust and skin (or lift off the fillet with the skin and take the skin off separately, if that’s easier) and serve with beurre blanc.