When I saw the article in the May edition of Fine Cooking on Salt Encrusted Fish, I knew I had to try it. After all, I live in South Florida and I’m always trying to figure out new things to do with seafood.
This technique is surprisingly easy! Essentially, you take a whole fish and encase it in a salt layer that steams the fish as it cooks! And, it just looks cool.
This works well with any round fish such as a salmon, striped bass or trout. Use what is local for you- I used Red Snapper. You will also need a large amount of salt, and instant read thermometer, a cookie sheet/baking pan and some egg whites, and “aromatics” (ie, herbs) to stuff the fish with. Be sure to buy at least a 3lb box of kosher salt for this recipe.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Your fish will need to have its insides and all scales removed (have your butcher do this). Rinse the fish and pat dry.
Rub the outside of the fish with olive oil (so it will be easier to remove the salt crust after it bakes). Stuff the fish with your favorite aromatics- herbs, lemons, garlic, shallots- whatever you like!
Next, mix your salt with the egg whites and water. Spread enough of the salt mixture on the baking pan to make a bed to put the fish on, about 1/4” thick. Put the fish on top of the salt bed and make a 1/4” crust around the entire fish.
Roast the fish for 20-30 minutes of until an instant read thermometer reads 135 degrees.
Remove the fish and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
Serving the fish:
Take the back of a metal spoon and tap the salt crust to break it. Next, push the crust to the side so the fish is exposed. Using the spoon, scrape the skin off the top of the fillet and push it to the side.
Run the spoon along the spins to separate the meat from the bones and then use a fork or spatula to put the fish on serving plates.
Serve with olive oil and lemon juice. Your guests will love this simple and fun party trick and it will make you look like a cooking genius. The hardest part of this whole process is removing the bones so take your time and it will turn out great!