Salt-crusted fish with spring vegetables

Salt-crusted fish with spring vegetables

Poisson en croûte de sel avec ses légumes de printemps

Luke Nguyen's France
Alan Benson

I met a wonderfully talented French-Italian chef in Paris, who introduced me to the freshest and most vibrant spring vegetables. He served them with this fish dish — simply encrusted in salt, then baked. It’s a great cooking technique that captures all the natural flavours of the fish, herbs and salt, and cooks the fish perfectly.


Quantity Ingredient
2.5-3kg whole sea bass, cleaned
6 lemon thyme sprigs
12 leaves ail des ours, (see glossary)
or 12 garlic chives
2kg sea salt
1 egg white, lightly whisked
vinaigre de citron, (see glossary), for drizzling
freshly cracked sichuan peppercorns, for sprinkling

Spring vegetables

Quantity Ingredient
young bulb spring onions, (see glossary)
baby carrots
baby turnips
1 baby fennel bulb
fresh artichoke hearts
baby leeks
fresh peas
baby cherry tomatoes


  1. Stuff the fish cavity with half the thyme and half the ail des ours. Mix the remaining thyme and ail des ours with the sea salt and egg white and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Find a shallow tray large enough to hold the fish. Sprinkle the tray with some of the herbed salt mixture, covering it well, then lay the fish on top. Cover the fish with the remaining herbed salt mixture to make a crust.
  3. Bake for 35–40 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to rest for 8–10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and prepare the vegetables. Trim the spring onions and cut into long pieces. Peel the carrots and turnips, then cut the turnips in half from top to bottom. Trim the beans and fennel, cutting the fennel into quarters. Slice the artichoke hearts, leek and radishes. Remove the peas from their pods.
  5. Blanch the fennel and leek in the boiling water for 3 minutes, then remove and drain on paper towel. Blanch the remaining vegetables, except the radish and tomatoes, for 1 minute, then drain and dry. Toss the vegetables in a bowl with a splash of vinaigre de citron and a sprinkling of sea salt and sichuan pepper. Arrange the vegetables on serving plates.
  6. Using two spoons, gently crack the salt crust along the spine of the fish. Peel off the salt crust, then peel back the skin of the fish. The flesh should be soft and fall apart easily. Spoon the fish pieces over the vegetables and serve.
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