Salt-Crusted Whole Fish

Louiie Victa
Louiie Victa
November 10, 2020
This simple fish dish is easy to make, yet has an elegant presentation and a hint of surprise. Your dinner guests will be wowed at your skills as you crack open the salt dome, revealing a perfectly seasoned, flaky, and tender whole fish. This recipe calls for a lot of kosher salt, but fear not! It won’t yield a particularly salty result. The secret? Leaving the scales on the fish — both the skin and scales provide a barrier, allowing just enough salt to penetrate. The rest of the salt keeps all of the moisture inside the fish so that it steams in its own juices. Note: You can use any whole fish you’d like in this dish, as long as the weight is about the same. Salmon, trout, and striped bass will all work well. Ask your fishmonger to clean the fish but leave the scales on. Feel free to adjust the aromatics in this recipe to suit your taste. The method will remain the same. After further testing, this recipe has been updated to use a probe for cooking. If you’d like to skip the probe, you can bake the fish for 30 minutes using the same oven settings.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Salt-Crusted Whole Fish
3 cups
kosher salt
3 large
egg whites
1 (2-pound)
whole snapper, cleaned, with scales intact (see note)
red onion, chopped
lemon, sliced into thin wheels
8 to 10
cilantro stems
1 stalk
lemongrass, pounded with the back of a knife and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
1 (1-inch) piece
fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the Oven

Sous Vide Mode: Off
Steam: Off
Temp: 400°F
Heat: Top, Bottom

2. Prepare Salt Crust

Combine the salt and egg white in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix until the salt has the texture of wet sand.
Prepare Salt Crust

3. Prepare Fish

Stuff the inside of the fish with the onion, lemon, cilantro stems, lemongrass, and ginger. Drizzle oil on both sides and season with pepper.
Prepare Fish

4. Assemble

On a sheet pan, make a bed of the salt mixture that is large enough for the whole fish. Top with the fish. Insert the probe into the thickest part of the flesh. Top with the remaining salt mixture. Press the salt onto the fish to seal it. It is okay to leave the tail out if you’d like.

5. Bake

Transfer to the oven, attach the probe, and cook until the probe reaches its target temperature, about 30 minutes.
Sous Vide Mode: Off
Steam: Off
Temp: 400°F
Heat: Top, Bottom
145°F Probe Target

6. Rest

Let the fish rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

7. Serve

Take the sheet pan to the dinner table and place it on a trivet, towel, or other heatproof surface. Gently crack the salt crust open with a kitchen mallet or with the back of a large spoon. Brush away cracked salt to reveal the fish. Serve immediately.
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