1.5 kg (3 lb) whole sea bass, gutted but not scaled
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
1 tablespoon Pernod (optional)
Mix together the salt and egg whites. Spread a layer of the salt mixture over the bottom of a roasting tray large enough to fit the whole fish. Place the fish on top and tuck the fennel and lemon slices inside the cavity. Completely cover with the remaining salt mixture (don’t worry if the tail is still exposed). Place in a preheated oven, 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6, for 25 minutes until cooked through.
Meanwhile, mix together the mayonnaise, crushed fennel seeds and Pernod, if using.
To serve, crack the salt crust by giving it a tap with the back of a knife, then lift away. Pull the skin away from the fish, then slice into fillets and serve with the fennel mayo, some steamed potatoes and a tomato salad.