Roasted Sea Bass with Spicy Orange Salsa

I have always wanted to try this technique, but it seemed very "summering in Martha's Vineyard" or "Let's pop over to that little Greek island for the day; the water is divine." Basically, fancy people food. Like, real fancy. You're essentially building a personal oven for your fish, which, just by the sound of it, seems super fussy and complicated. But it's not.

This is a cooking technique beloved by fishermen -- and now me -- because not only is it easy, it's also foolproof. All you need for succulent, perfectly-cooked fish is salt and egg whites. Here's the science of it: The salt crust creates a little oven that absorbs steam, thus locking in the fish's juices, and protecting the fish from the dry heat of the oven. Because the fish is whole with the skin on (which you remove before serving), the salt isn't absorbed by the fish, so don't worry about it being over seasoned. Click through our slideshow for step-by-step instructions and enjoy! mvp-header
Thumb A sexy blend (yes, a baking dish can be sexy) of Danish modernism and 1950's cooking, this lovely baking dish from Dansk is on my birthday wish list. It's modern and clean, and the triple enamel means easy cleanup. Kobenstyle White Rectangular Baker, $100, Dansk

for the fish: 6 egg whites 3 cups kosher salt 1 bunch fresh thyme 1/2 bunch fresh basil 1 whole 1-to-2-pound black sea bass or rainbow trout, cleaned and gutted

for the salsa: 1 cup orange, cut into supremes (see here for helpful how-to) 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, finely chopped 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice 1 tablespoon lemon juice 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 garlic clove, minced kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

(Serves 3-5)

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gently fold in the salt.

3. Place the thyme and basil into the body cavity of the fish, and set the fish aside for the moment.

4. Spread a quarter of egg-white mixture on a large oven-safe dish.

5. Set the fish on top, and cover with the rest of the salt mixture, patting it around the fish to enclose it completely.

6. Place the dish in the oven, and bake it for 25 minutes (30 for a 2-pound fish), until the crust is nicely browned and completely hard.

7. Meanwhile, combine all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl, lightly stirring to combine. Set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle.

8. After baking, remove fish from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

9. Push the needle of a meat thermometer through the crust into the fish. If the temperature measures 120° to 125°F, it's ready. If not, let it cook for five more minutes and check it again.

10. Using a wooden spoon, strike the crust to crack it. Carefully remove pieces of salt crust from top of fish and divide meat among plates. Serve with tons of spicy orange salsa.

For more unique meal ideas, head over to The Kitchy Kitchen. claire-signature-layout Photographs: Claire Thomas