You ever get a hankering for something that you just cant shake or inspiration for a recipe that you just cant ignore, I did. A few tweets later and I find myself standing in Fin and Flounder my local and favourite fishmonger (on Broadway Market) who only deal with sustainable and line caught fishies) waiting for my whole fish big enough to feed 5. I bought a grey mullet who used to live in Cornwall and was about relocate briefly to my oven before making a nice home in my belly… I named him Phillius Fish.
I made Phillius a nice little salt pastry cave with smoked paprika and coriander seeds but if I’m honest I think you’d have to be a blood hound to taste them; the spices unfortunately didn’t flavour the fish like I thought they would, they did give a nice pinkish hue to the pastry though and made my fish sculpture look a little more ‘realistic’.
Without further adieu let me introduce to you, Phillius…
You can stuff his cavity with whatever you want, I used fresh fennel, you could also use citrus and lemongrass. The pastry casing is NOT edible it’s merely used to cook the fish. This pastry recipe made probably twice what I needed but dependant on how lavish your decorations are you may not want to halve it. I also created a delicious Creme Caramel recipe from the yolks so was happy to make the full batch because hardly anything was wasted.
For the salt pastry you will need:
- 9 egg whites
- 1kg of flour
- 600g table salt (I used course, you can use fine if you wish)
- 300ml (1 and 1/3 cups) of water
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
Mix all the ingredients well either by hand or with a dough hook in a large container.
Once the pastry comes away easily from the sides of your container roll into a ball and cover with clingfilm, set aside in the fridge for at least 30mins.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celcius.
Cut the pastry into 12 even pieces and roll out into 5ml thick rectangles.
Layer a base of the pastry on a shallow metal baking tray in overlapping rectangles, enough so that your fish will be laying on a complete pastry base. Allow at least 1cm overlap to account for shrinkage during the cooking process.
Once you have the base layer the top of your fish in the same way, tucking the pastry in snugly so you can see the outline of the fish as clearly as is possible, pinch the pastry together at the sides to seal.
Overlap your pastry then cut the excess from the outside leaving a 1cm ridge seal.
With a little water gently brush the pastry and ensure there are no holes (the fish steams in the pastry, should there be any holes it wont cook properly). I made Phillius some fins and gave him a nice pastry smile, you can do the same and even score some scales but be careful not to pierce the pastry.
Pop your fish in the oven and cook for 20-30 mins (less for a smaller fish) or until the pastry is golden brown.
To cut the fish out of the pastry cut around the head and along the sides and top so that just the ‘body pastry’ comes away. Dont be shocked if the skin comes away with it, this can sometimes happen. Dependant on the fish you’re using you can usually scrape the fish straight from the bones, it will be so tender it will fall away.
Remember not to try to eat the pastry, it’s not edible.
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Hugs & Nonsense