This recipe calls for a whole fish. Eyes and tail and all. Kind of scary, but the end result is a gorgeous and dramatic presentation that is sure to wow any crowd. This really is a great party dish. Bring the fish to the table, salt crust and all and hammer away at it in front of your guests. They will love it.
The reason for cooking the fish in the salt crust is not only for show, but also because it keeps the fish extremely moist (a word I hate, but it really is the best description of the fish). The fish comes out flavorful, very tender and light. And also a little bit plain. That’s where the parsley gremolata comes in to play. This topping adds flavor to the fish and completes the dish. A quick tip: ask your fishmonger clean and scale the fish for you (it will save a lot of time!).
I included a quick step-by-step below so you can see how cool this process really is:
Step 1: Place the lemon slices, parsley, and fennel in the cavity of the fish.
Steps 3 and 4: Spread the salt on the bottom of the pan. Lay the fish on top. Por the remaining salt over the fish, covering completely.
Step 5: Bake for 45 minutes.
Step 7: Crack open the crust with a small hammer or knife.
Salt Crusted Fish
This recipe can easily be halved for a smaller group, buy a 2.5 pound fish, half the rest of the ingredients and decrease the cooking time to roughly 25 minutes.
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 small buch flat-leaf parsley sprigs
- Fronds from 1 medium fennel bulb
- 1 whole fish, approximately 5 pounds, such as snapper or sea bass (we used red snapper)
- 2 egg whites
- 4 pounds coarse sea salt or kosher salt (may need up to 6 pounds for a larger fish)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon wedges
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Finely grated zest from 1 oganic lemon
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Place the lemon slices, parsley, and fennel in the cavity of the fish. Do not overstuff.
- Combine the egg whites and sea salt in a bowl. Mix well to moisten the salt.
- Spread one-third of the salt on the bottom of a large baking dish or pan covered with tin foil. Lay the fish on top. Pour the remaining salt over the fish, covering completely. If needed, the tail can be exposed.
- Bake for 45 minutes (test with a fork if you’re nervous). Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes.
- While the fish bakes, make the gremolata. Combine the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Crack open the crust with a small hammer or knife. Remove and discard the crust. Fillet the fish.
- Arrange the fish on warm plates. Drizzle with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice from the lemon wedges. Serve with parsley gremolata.
Recipe from The Food52 Cookbook