A few weekends ago I flew to Dublin to attend a Kinfolk Dinner hosted by Joi & Damian of 31 Chapel Lane. It was one of those spur of the moment decisions I made, and one that I didn't regret. It was a case of being on Instagram at the right time when I happened to see a post from Joi about the dinner. I had missed the one in London last year and I thought Dublin (only an hour's flight from London) would be the closest I would get to one of these dinners. After pondering over the idea for half an hour, I knew I had to make the decision quickly before the tickets sold out. It didn't long before Mark and I decided that we were going, and we might as well make a long weekend of it in Dublin. Not that we hadn't been to Dublin before. We have been countless times over the years, but this time we decided we were going to do it differently. We weren't going to stay with family and we were going to visit places that were new to us.
The Kinfolk Dinner itself was truly a lovely night out, one where I met lots of new people and had the chance to put faces to Instagram names I had seen online like Rincy and Marta. It was lovely to catch up with my friend Niamh whom I met at this food styling & photography workshop. I also met Brideen and Deci, a wedding photography couple from Belfast who coincidentally are friends with Tim, who was our wedding photographer. It's moment like these that remind you of how small the world really is.
To get to the venue, required a short walk down a cul-de-sac into what looked like an industrial area. As I approached and saw clusters of candles flickering in the twilight, I knew I was on the right track. It was only when I entered the lit doorway that I got to see what an amazing space the venue was. It was a warehouse, which had been cleared of all the clutter to make way for the dinner, creating a lofty and spacious venue. The space was minimally and tastefully styled by Ciara. Adja was responsible for the wonderful food styling with cake for dessert by Wildflour Bakery. Joi & Damian were gracious and generous hosts who made sure guests introduced themselves to one another and that everyone was drinking, eating and having a great time.
Joi held a workshop on dying fabrics using natural food products. Adja held a workshop on salt baking vegetables, which lead me to this post. I wanted to give salt baking a try at home and instead of vegetables, I applied the same technique to fish instead. You create a sand like mixture with salt (a lot of it) egg and water, which is then used to cover the entire fish. For extra flavour, I added lemongrass, limes and holy basil into the cavity of the fish. But you can use any herb you want. In half an hour of baking you end up with a perfectly cooked and fragrant fish.
1 x 250g sea bass
1 kg rock salt
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup finely chopped lemongrass
1 lime, sliced
Holy basil or coriander
Preheat the oven to 230º/450ºF/Gas Mark 8.
Mix the salt, egg and water in a large bowl. The mixture should resemble wet sand. If it is too dry you can add more water until you obtain the right consistency.
Stuff the cavity of the fish with the lemongrass, handful of basil leaves and lime slices.
Place a sheet of baking paper on the baking tray. Lay half the salt mixture on the tray, place the fish on top and lay the remainder of the salt on top of the fish. Cover the entire fish completely, except for the head and tail.
Bake in the oven for 30 mins. Carefully crack and remove the salt crust and the fish skin. Scrape off any excess salt from the fish, remove the cavity filling, and serve immediately.
You can also try mixing chopped herbs into the salt mixture to further flavour the fish.
Instead of fish, try this with vegetables like carrots, beetroot or parsnips.