Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fish Baked in a Salt Crust

Fish Baked in a Salt Crust
By: Chef Cristian Feher

This is possibly the easiest and most delicious way to cook a whole fish. And it’s undoubtedly the most enjoyable way to prepare it! I had so much fun working on this recipe, that I ended up salt-crusting a ribeye steak and a piece of chicken too!

The salt is combined with a small amount of egg whites (or even a bit of water will work) - this helps to form a thick crust of salt which traps the moisture of the fish inside the crust and cooks it at a high temperature. The salt does not enter the fish, and the thickness of it prevents it from burning. When you’re through, you tap the crust to crack it, revealing a perfectly cooked item inside. The salt even dries out the skin to the point where it peels clean off the flesh - you don’t even have to de-scale the fish. This is a truly unique and wonderful method of cooking fish and meats.''

When I don't catch my own fish at the beach, I buy them fresh at Wards Seafood in Clearwater, FL. 

NOTE:  If you saw my cooking segment on the Good Day Show featuring this recipe, you may have noticed how much effort it took for me to hack through the salt crust to get to the fish. This was because the fish was accidentally left in the oven 45 minutes past its cooking time at 450 degrees, turning the salt into a concrete-like block! However, the fish inside was still juicy and delicious - a testament to this method of cooking. But, I recommend baking the fish at 450 degrees for about 30-40 minutes only, so that the salt cracks apart easily.

- 1 to 1.5 Lb fish (whole, gutted)
- 2 Lbs of canning or pickling salt per fish
- 1 egg white per pound of salt
- 2 tbsp of water per pound of salt


1. Mix the salt with the egg whites and water in a bowl. I mixed it with my hands.

2. Lay down an inch-thick layer of salt on a baking dish.

3. Put the fish on top of the salt.

4. Make a mount of salt on top of the fish’s body. You do not need to cover the head.

5. I cook my fish at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes until it develops what I like to call, the “zombie face” where the eyes become fully dehydrated and cooked. Another way to tell when whole fish is cooked is to pull out the dorsal fins along the back, they will come out without any effort when the flesh is fully cooked.

6. Crack the salt crust with a wooden mallet, or any other tool you can think of. Carefully remove the crispy skin away from the flesh, and scrape the meat off the spine and put on a serving plate. Remove the spine and remove the bottom layer of meat, put on serving plate and enjoy with fresh lemon slices!

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1 comment:

  1. Goodness! It doesn't quite sound right, cooking something in a slab of salt. But I'll take your word for it and give this a try as I am sure it will come out nice.