salt crusted baked fish
- 3 lbs whole fish (gutted, scaled & gills cut out)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 ⁄4 cup fresh herb
- 8 lbs kosher salt (not rock salt)
- 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line a pan 2 to 3 inches longer than the fish with aluminum foil (I have used cookie sheets covered in aluminum foil with aluminum foil lips for larger fish).
Pour the eggs whites into a large bowl. Add salt--goal is consistency of wet sand.
Layer 1 to 2 inches in pan. Make this layer several inches larger than the fish.
Rinse fish & pat dry, then lay onto salt.
Sprinkle 1/2 T zest over area fish will rest.
Stuff fish with herbs &/or diced lemon (pith removed from lemon first).
Lay fish onto salt bed, laying so that abdominal incision is covered (to avoid being filled with salt).
Pack wet salt mixture on & around fish. Pat down gently.
Bake 40 minutes (I add 10 -12 minutes for each additional pound of fish).
Remove from oven & let sit for 10 to 15 minutes (perfect for last minute table arranging).
Crack the salt shell with a mallet or heavy spoon & peel off chunks of shell to expose the fish.
Inhale! Admire the color of the fish (red snapper, sheepshead, strawberry grouper & Spanish mackerel all look brilliant) then lift top fillet from bone & serve (some small bone from fins will be in fillets). Don't forget the cheeks! Mmm!
Lift tail to remove back bone (often with the head) to get to the other side.
Clean up is to lift the foil & throw salt crust, bones & skin away.