Salt-Crusted Branzino with Agrumi Sauce

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Salt-Crusted Branzino with Agrumi Sauce

Recipe adapted from Paul Bartolotta, Bartolotta, Ristorante di Mare at the Wynn, Las Vegas

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Total Time: About 1 hour


Agrumi Sauce 

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 1½ oranges)

1 tablespoon lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)

Zest of ½ orange

Zest of ½ lemon

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

5 mint leaves, plus more for garnish

5 basil leaves, plus more for garnish

Kosher salt


2½ pounds course sea salt (about 4 cups)

¼ cup anise seed

½ cup star anise, crushed in a mortar or food processor

Zest of 1 orange, cut using a zester tool (or grated)

Zest of 1 lemon, cut using a zester tool (or grated)

5 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 (2-pound) branzino or 2 (1-pound) branzini, cleaned

½ to 1 orange, sliced into ¼ inch half moons

Several sprigs flat-leaf parsley


1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Make the agrumi sauce: In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients, bruising the herbs with the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve.

2. In a large bowl, combine the coarse sea salt, anise seed, star anise, orange and lemon zests and egg whites; it will have the consistency of wet sand. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Stuff the fish's cavity with the orange slices and parsley sprigs. Spoon ⅓ of the salt mixture onto a baking dish large enough to hold the fish. Set the fish on the salt mixture (if using 2 smaller fish, set them side by side over the salt mixture.) Cover the entire fish with the remaining salt mixture and pat it down into place.

4. Bake until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish reaches 130°, about 20 minutes for a 1-pound fish or 25 minutes for a 2-pound fish.

5. Using a knife or spoon, crack the salt crust off the top of the fish and discard. Lift the fish from the salt and place on a work surface. Fillet the fish by removing the skin and large bones. Transfer the fillets to plates and serve with the agrumi sauce. Garnish with additional mint and basil leaves.

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