Rose's May Shop Watch: Sel de Guérande
Sel de Guérande
French Click and Amazon
Gros sel de Guérande
The best way to cook a whole fish
I am going to cook a whole sea bass in a salt crust for my dinner guests. This method of cooking produces the most moist fish possible since the fish is essentially sealed in its own oven. I really do believe it is THE best way to cook a whole fish. And, believe it or not, it comes without a trace of saltiness and, as an added plus, it makes for a very dramatic presentation. This method of cooking is quite common in France and Italy but less well known here.
This may be partly due to the fact that English coarse salt does not easily form a natural crust. You can flick a little water over the surface of the English salt before cooking, but, in my experience, this often leads to a crust that is so hard that you need a hammer and chisel to break it open – which could startle your guests!
However this grey coarse French salt comes with its own moisture built in. You will need about 1.5 - 2 kilos of the salt for a fish of just over a kilo – perfect for 4 people. Simply put an even layer on the bottom of a roasting tin, lay the fish on top and completely cover it with another layer of salt. Put it in a hot oven (220C) and cook for exactly 35 minutes for a fish of this size. You are unable to test it to see if it is cooked so you do need to time it. Then simply break open the crust with a spoon and fork, push it to one side and lift the white succulent fish onto a serving dish. Make a simple olive oil dressing to go with it (heat some oil in a pan and add a few chopped cherry tomatoes, capers, dill or basil and some lemon juice and seasoning).
Sel de Guérande is a natural sea salt, which is absolutely free of any additives. It is harvested by hand from the salt marshes near Guérande in Brittany, using methods which have been in use for thousands of years. It is quite simply produced by the sea, the sun and the wind. The quality is so renowned that it has achieved not only Label Rouge status in France, but also PGI - the European Union guarantee regarding its origin and quality. You can learn more about it by accessing the website (leguerandais.fr/en), and you can see their other products like the Fleur de Sel, which are wonderful natural salt flakes for the table. You will also find recipes for other fish (sea bream) and meat (chicken, lamb, beef) cooked in a salt crust.
An upper crust dish
Gros del de Guérande
French Click 5k bag £12.50
Amazon 3 x 1k bag £9.49
Availability and price as at 30th April 2018