Pescado en Sal (Salt-Baked Fish with Ginger Oil)
A fish I've never encountered outside Peru, chita is a type of grunt with tender white flesh. This preparation is well suited to branzino, but you can use any white fish with firm but tender flesh, such as red snapper, black bass, or striped bass.
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup egg whites (about 3 large egg whites)
- 1 whole fresh branzino (about 2 lb), cleaned and scaled
- Coarse sea salt
- 3 Tbsp peeled fresh ginger cut into matchsticks
- 1 Tbsp thinly sliced garlic (3 to 4 cloves)
- 8 cilantro leaves
Place a rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F.
To prepare the fish, combine the kosher salt, water, and egg whites and mix until well combined.
Gently rinse the fish, inside and out, and pat dry. Season the cavity with sea salt and stuff with the ginger, garlic, and cilantro.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the paper with a quarter of the kosher salt mixture in an even layer. Lay the fish on the salt bed and mound the remaining salt mixture on top of the fish to completely cover. Bake the fish for 30 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the fish rest for 5 minutes at room temperature.
To remove the salt shell, hold a spoon perpendicular to the fish, and use another spoon to tap it gently—as you would a hammer and nail—working your way around the outer edge of the fish to carefully split open the crust. You should then be able to lift the crust away in big chunks. Discard the crust and use one of the spoons to delicately scrape the skin off the fish.
To portion out the fish, use a dinner fork and a spoon to carefully remove the flesh— in chunks or as a whole fillet—from the top side of the fish. The skeleton will easily lift away from the bottom half of the fish, leaving a whole fillet that you can then lift away from its skin.
To serve, drizzle the fish with 2 tablespoons of the ginger oil and serve with white rice and additional ginger oil on the side.