Whole Fish in Salt Crust

This is delicious healthy fish dish that comes out super moist & buttery every time with a dramatic table-side presentation! Don't be afraid of the name - it is not salty at all. In fact the salt crust seals in moisture essentially steaming the fish inside. Because the salt absorbs the moisture, the texture and taste of the fish ultimately is more that of roasted than steamed fish.

Whole Fish in Salt Crust
Pesce in Crosta di Sale

Serves 2-4 depending on size of the fish

2 whole round fish (trout, bronzino, orata, striped bass) between 1-2lbs (.5 - 1 kilo). Stay away from a flat fish such as sole.
pepper flakes
sea salt, coarse ground or rock salt - ratio recipe 1.5 salt to 1 fish: if your total fish weight is 1lbs, you need 1.5 lbs of salt
2-3 eggs
olive oil
any aromatics you like to flavor the salt: fennel, zest of lemon, rosemary, herbs, etc.

Clean the fish (or ask your fish monger to do it for you!) Remove the fins & gills,  clean the cavity and scale the fish - leaving the head intact. Wash thoroughly and pat dry.

Stuff the cavity with parsley and lemon slices. Generously oil the fish on both sides.

In a bowl combine the salt with a small handful of pepper flakes, rind of one lemon and eggs. Mix. (You can add any herbs you like - rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves - it doesn't matter you are just flavoring the salt.) It should have the consistency for making good sand castles, add water a little at a time to achieve this consistency.

Lay a 1/2 inch bed of salt in the bottom of a roasting pan suitable to accommodate the fish (not too big, not too small). Lay the fish on the bed of salt and cover generously with the remaining salt. There should be a 1/2 inch crust of salt all around the fish. It's Okay if the head is not completely covered.

Bake at 425 F/ 220 C degrees for 20-40 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. You can insert a knife into the center of the fish & when the tip is hot the fish is done.

The fish will stay warm in the salt crust for well over an hour - this is something you can do ahead of time and pull it out as your guests arrive.

Crack the salt crust table side - for a dramatic entrance of the secondo! Use a pastry brush to gently brush away excess salt.

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