Playing Around in the Kitchen: Salt Crusted Fish

One of our chefs prepared this classic dish on a hot summer day and it came out so beautifully that we just had to snap a picture of it and share with you here. At Between the Bread we believe in simplicity of plates and letting the food speak for itself. The beauty of this dish is that its presentation is inherent in its preparation. No further tweaking needed – just a beautiful fish with herbs (if you so choose) and cooked salt flakes cracked off of it.

Even though you’ll need 3 lbs of KOSHER salt for this recipe (table salt is too fine and will not provide the larger, flakier texture of kosher salt to pack evenly over the fish), the fish will not taste overly salty. In the oven this salt covering hardens and becomes a crusted casing that will retain moisture in the fish, lock in juices and steam it to perfection. You’ll find that after cracking the salt crust (so satisfying) and removing the skin and bones, your fish will be immaculately moist, silky and pristinely seasoned. No muss, no fuss.

What you’ll need:

  • Large non-stick sheet pan
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • 2 whole fish, cleaned (1 – 1.5 lbs each, virtually any fish works: trout, striped bass, black sea bass, black cod, salmon, red snapper are all great choices)
  • 1 3 lb box of kosher salt
  • 2 lemons, 1 sliced in quarters and one sliced thinly (to vary, experiment with orange, garlic, shallots or fresh ginger)
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary (to vary, experiment with dill, thyme, bay leave or fennel)
  • 8 egg whites

What to do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Create the salt crust: whisk egg whites and then add all of salt into egg whites. Mix until egg whites evenly distributed and salt is slightly moist
  3. Spread thin layer of salt crust mixture onto entire non-stick sheet pan
  4. Place fish in non-stick sheet pan on top of salt layer, filling body cavity of fish with thin lemon slices and half of rosemary
  5. Cover fish with top layer of salt crust mixture, packing it firmly to cover entire surface of the fish
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes until internal temperature of fish is 135° F (use thermometer)
  7. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes
  8. Using wooden spoon, gently smack salt crush on fish and carefully detach salt crust pieces off without damaging fish underneath. Use soft brush to remove remaining excess salt.
  9. Lift off skin and remove bones
  10. Instagram that dramatic beauty
  11. Enjoy!