James Hird and Todd Garratt: Salt-crusted snapper with fennel

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 8 people

  • 1 snapper (about 2kg), scaled and cleaned
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 8 small baby fennel, trimmings reserved
  • 4 eggwhites
  • 1 kg coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lemons, halved
  • Pinch fennel pollen, or to taste (optional, see note)
01   Preheat oven to 220C. Pat snapper inside and out with absorbent paper to dry, then lay on a large sheet of baking paper. Stuff fish cavity with garlic, bay leaves and fennel trimmings. Enclose fish in baking paper, leaving head and tail protruding.
02   Whisk eggwhites in a bowl until soft peaks form, then stir through sea salt. Scatter enough salt mixture over base of a roasting pan or ovenproof platter large enough to fit fish snugly, leaving head and tail portruding. Place wrapped fish on top of salt and cover with remaining salt mixture. Bake until fish is cooked through (25-30 minutes), remove from oven and rest for 10-15 minutes.
03   Meanwhile, preheat a char-grill over medium-high heat. Brush fennel with olive oil, then grill, turning occasionally until just tender (10-15 minutes). Transfer to a roasting pan, season to taste and roast until tender and caramelised (10-15 minutes). Add lemons to grill and cook, flesh-side down, until caramelised and juice is warm (3-5 minutes).
04   To serve, crack open salt crust, open paper parcel, season fish to taste with fennel pollen and serve immediately with fennel and lemons.
Note Fennel pollen is available from fennelpollen.com and select spice stores.

This recipe is from the August 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
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