If you're relatively new to the cooking game, the prospect of cooking a whole anything can be fairly intimidating. Does it still have eyes? Skin? Fins? Scales? A brain? A soul?
Guys, it is no big deal, OK? Sure, the butcher didn't cut it up into wittle un-scary pieces for you, but you're going to feel like such a boss when you bust out a silver tray with a big, beautiful, salt-crusted bass—bursting with sunny lemon slices, fennel, and fragrant fresh herbs—for all of the guests at your dinner party and watch all of their eye light up with glee.
Fancy enough for a birthday on The Dinner Bell but easy enough to prepare in less than an hour, this dish from Julia Ziegler-Haynes is as impressive as it is simple. And of course you have to leave the head and tail on—for Pete's sake, those are the parts that make it look cool.
Stuff the fish with the aforementioned accoutrements, smother it in a sand made of salt and egg whites, and pop it in a hot oven for about the length of an episode of Seinfeld. Boom: you're done. (Try serving your gorgeous fish with a side of Sautéed Sea Beans and a half-decent bottle of white wine.)
And now you know how to cook a whole fish. Congrats: You can call yourself a proper home chef.
You might even find yourself going for the cheeks. They're one of the best parts, after all.