k  Episode 4 - Salinas Salt Baked Fish With The Mambo Family  k

To make the best fish dish ever, I head to Salinas to collect the purest sea salt straight from the source before making a lovely lazy lunch for The Mambo Brothers DJs and their legendary dad Javier at his flagship restaurant Villa Mercedes. I recreate this iconic fish dish with a little twist of zingy caper sauce and seasonal roasted vegetables fresh from the fields. It’s a total show stopper that anyone can easily make!



Serves 4

For the salt baked fish

2 kg coarse rock sea salt

2 large free-range eggs beaten

1½ tablespoons fennel seeds

1 lemon rind

1.5kg sea bass (gutted, scales left on)

1 onion (or large spring onions)

1 lemon

Small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon pink peppercorns

For the caper butter lemon sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

40g best quality capers

4 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley

50g butter

Juice 1/2 lemon

Roasted vegetables with pine nuts & hint of orange

2 medium carrots (cut into 1.5cm dice)

Half small butternut squash (cut into 1.5cm dice)

1 red pepper (cut into 1.5cm dice)

5 small purple potatoes – or 1 fresh beetroot (cut into 1.5cm dice)

½ red onion (cut into 1.5cm dice)

2 cloves garlic

3 sprig fresh thyme

1 teaspoon onion salt (or sea salt)

2–3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Juice of one orange

Handful of pine nuts



  1. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature
  2. Stuff the cavity of your fish with the lemon slices, onions, parsley (or any fragrant herbs) and pink peppercorns
  3. Put the rock salt into a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of water, your eggs, fennel seeds and the grated rind of a lemon. Mix everything together until it feels like wet sand
  4. Spread two-thirds of the mixture on the base of a roasting tray in a thick layer, then lay the fish on the salt bed and completely cover it with the rest of the salt so you get a layer just over 2cm thick. Pat down firmly, I tend to leave the head and tail out
  5. Now prepare the roasted vegetables – it’s a bit laborious but try and cut all the veg into 1.5cm dice (just so everything cooks at the same time). In a large bowl gently toss the vegetable in the olive oil, crushed garlic, fresh thyme and onion salt and squeeze over the juice of an orange
  6. Now put the salt cover fish and the vegetables into the oven at the same time and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven, take a sharp knife and stick it through the salt into the middle of your fish. Carefully touch the knife to your lip and if it’s hot, the fish is ready. Leave to one side for 5-10 minutes
  7. Then add the pine nuts and roast for a further 10 minutes. If the vegetables are blackening too much then cover them with foil
  8. While the fish and vegetables are cooking you can make the sauce. In a pan add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and warm on a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute then add the capers and parsley. Add the butter to the pan and allow to gently melt, remove from the heat and squeeze in the lemon juice
  9. By now the salt on your fish should be hard as a brick, cover with a clean cloth and give it a whack around the edges with the back of a spoon. If you’re lucky the whole top will peel off. Carefully brush the excess salt off your fish, trying not to let the salt touch the flesh, then gently move it to a platter using a fish slice. Run a knife along the spine of the fish up to the head, then cut across the fish below the head. Use the knife to find the bones, then carefully lift the fillet up and discard the skin and bones and put beautiful big flakes of fish on a serving platter with the vegetables, lemon wedges and glorious sauce spooned over the fish