Salt Baked Snapper
Cook Time 1 hour
1.5kg whole snapper, gutted but scales left on
3kg of table salt
2 eggs, separated
¼ cup of water
1 fennel with fronds and stalks
½ bunch of thyme
1 lemon sliced into rounds + extra to garnish
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sherry vinegar
¾ cup grapeseed oil
3-4 strands of saffron
½ clove garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon zest
To make the mayonnaise, whisk the egg yolks with the mustard. Slow drizzle in the oil, adding only small drips at the beginning to ensure the sauce thickens. Drizzle in the remaining oil until a thick mayonnaise forms. Combine with the vinegar, saffron, garlic, lemon zest, pinch salt and cayenne. This can be made the day before.
Remove fish from the fridge 20 minutes before cooking and preheat the oven to 180°C. In a very large bowl combine the salt, egg whites and water. Using your hands mix together. It should be pliable and feel like wet sand. Place half of the salt in the bottom of an oven tray.
Stuff the cavity of the fish with sliced fennel and stalks (reserve fronds for garnish), thyme, and lemon rounds. Rest the fish on the pile of salt and gather it around the side of the fish. Top with the rest of the salt and press down, ensuring the entire fish is encased in the salt like a cocoon.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes. Break the crust and carefully remove the chunks of salt. Pull away the skin (and scales).
Serve fish with a dollop of mayonnaise and fennel fronds.