In Provence, where similar dishes are popular along the coast,
they would drink this with a jaunty glass of Bandol rosé.
Snapper2 kg coarse sea salt2 tbsp fresh thyme4 eggwhites1 (about 1.8kg) snapper, cleaned, scales left on (see note)Lemon dressing125 ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil½lemon (juice only)1 tbsp finely chopped chervilRatatouille120 ml extra-virgin olive oil1 onion, coarsely chopped3 cloves garlic, finely chopped5 ripe tomatoes, coarsely grated1 small eggplant, halved lengthways and thickly sliced1 small red capsicum, seeds removed and coarsely chopped475 gm (about 5 small) zucchini, thickly sliced
To make ratatouille, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until soft. Add tomato and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté eggplant for 5 minutes or until golden, use a slotted spoon to transfer to the tomato mixture. Cook capsicum for 3 minutes or until golden, transfer to vegetable mixture. Cook zucchini for 3 minutes or until golden, transfer with a slotted spoon to vegetable mixture. Add ½ cup water to vegetable mixture and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until sauce thickens and vegetables are tender. Serve either hot or cold.
Preheat oven to 200C. Combine salt, thyme and eggwhite in a bowl and mix well. Spread a thin layer of salt mixture over the base of a large oval oven-proof baking dish or tray large enough to hold the fish and place snapper on top. Spread remaining salt mixture evenly over snapper. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender.
To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients until combined.
Remove snapper from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Using a knife, carefully break salt crust and remove. Using a spoon, scrape off the skin and remove flesh from the bone and transfer to plates. Spoon some lemon dressing over the snapper flesh and serve with ratatouille.
Note Ask your fishmonger to leave the scales on
as it helps the salt adhere to the fish.