Consider making this salad even if you are not cooking the fish. It has a wonderful balance of fresh and cooked vegetables and makes perfect sense at the height of summer to early autumn, when these vegetables are at their peak. Oh, and do try this cooking method for fish when you’re feeling a little adventurous. You’d get the most tender flesh, I guarantee.
- 4 sprigs of fresh oregano
- 8 sprigs of fresh dill
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (250g net)
- 1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium pollocks, sea breams or red mullets, scaled and gutted (800g net)
- 1 kg coarse rock salt
- 2 aubergines (eggplants), cut into 2 cm dice (1.3 kg net)
- 150 ml light olive oil, for frying
- 2 tomatoes, cut into 1½ cm dice (200 g net)
- 2 small courgettes (zucchinis), cut into 2 cm dice (290 g net)
- 1 small onion, finely diced (80 g net)
- 2 long green peppers (capsicums), cut into 2 cm dice (360 g net)
- 4 anchovies , finely chopped
- 120 g green olives, pitted and torn
- 60 g samphire (blanched if very salty)
- 10 g basil, torn
- 5 g oregano, finely chopped
- 10 g dill, torn
- 10 g mint, roughly chopped
- 10 g tarragon leaves
- 50 ml lemon juice
- 75 ml olive oil
- salt and black pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
First make the salad. Place the aubergine (eggplant) in a colander, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, stir and leave for 30 minutes to release some of the water. Shake well to get rid of any excess liquid and then dry with a kitchen towel. Put the olive oil in a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the aubergine in batches – you don’t want to overcrowd the pan – and fry for about 5 minutes, turning from time to time, until the cubes are golden-brown on all sides. Remove and set aside on some kitchen paper to drain, with another pinch of salt, and repeat with the remaining aubergine.
Once the aubergine is cool, transfer to a large salad bowl and add all the remaining ingredients for the salad. Add ¾ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper; mix gently and set aside. For the fish, place the oregano, dill, fennel, lemon slices and oil in a small bowl. Mix together and then stuff the mixture inside the cavity of both fish. Place half of the coarse salt in two long heaps on an oven tray. Wipe both fish dry with kitchen paper and place each on top of one heap of salt. Top both fish with the remaining salt until they completely covered. Sprinkle with a little water, to help the crust form, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Gently crack open the salt to reveal the fish. Use a pastry brush to remove all the pieces of the salt and then remove the skin off the flesh. Use a palate knife to gently move the fish to a large platter and serve alongside the salad.
View all the recipes from Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast.