Recipes from Liguria: N° 3 - branzino al sale

Fishmonger stall at the Mercato Orientale in Genoa

BRANZINO AL SALE (luasso a-a sa-a) –

The Genoese for sea bass is luasso, a word related to French loup de mer, accounting for the voracity of this exquisite fish (a must in Roman times, too). This cooking method does suit the delicacy and consistency of its white flesh.

Cooking time: approx. 90 minutes
Difficulty level: low
Wine matching: white, e.g. DOC Riviera ligure di ponente Vermentino,
Serves: 6

Ingredients: 1 sea bass (approx. 2 kg), 3 kg sea salt, 2 cloves of white garlic (peeled), fresh rosemary (or other similar aromatic herb), 1 big untreated lemon

Gut and wash the sea bass, let dry and do not scale (thus, it will not break apart after cooking). Slice the garlic and the lemon and set into the fish with the rosemary. Close the length of the incision with toothpicks. Cover the bottom of a large oven pan with abundant salt (1-cm layer), place the sea bass in and entirely cover with the remaining salt. Bake (no preheating is needed) and set the temperature at 200° C, gradually adding extra tablespoons of water. After an hour (time slightly varies according to the oven…) turn the fish upside down, carefully breaking the lower salt layer with a spoon. Bake on for 30 minutes. At the end, clearing the fish will be an easy task (the scales and the skin always stick to the salt crust, only the head is to be discarded). Enjoy hot with a final (optional) drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or with some mayonnaise.

A recipe by Umberto Curti, Ligucibario

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