Salt Crusted Fish

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I can't believe how time has flown!  I speak both of the almost three weeks since my last post, and of my wedding anniversary.

Yesterday Drew and I celebrated six years of marriage.  I realize we're still relative newlyweds, but I'm just as starry-eyed over him as the day we started dating.  Marriage can be very difficult, but the rewards of perseverance and love are great.  One of the activities we've always enjoyed doing together is cooking, especially new things.  It's like a little adventure that you experience with the person you're cooking with.  We decided to tackle one of Alton Brown's "recipes" from Good Eats Season 1 ("Hook Line and Dinner" episode), the salt crusted fish.  After some light internet research I think I have learned that salt crusted fish is an Italian dish, and that it's a pretty widespread/common concept, having been written about in Saveur, Bon Appetit, and Gourmet Magazines, and with recipes online by the likes of Mario Batali and Alton Brown.

The salt dome not only helps to season the fish a bit; it helps to regulate oven temperatures for more even cooking.  It also makes you feel really accomplished as a cook for not too much work.  I will type up the recipe as we made it- that is, the serving amts with ingredient amts. adjusted accordingly.  I'll put in my notes how you can adapt this for yourself.

The whole meal- fish, served with citrus and sliced bread and a salad of mixed  greens, avocado, shallot, and orange slices.

Salt Crusted Fish
inspired by Alton Brown's Good Eats
Feeds 2 hungry adults

1- 1.5 lb whole red snapper, gutted, fins cut off, de-gilled
1.5- 2 lb Kosher Salt
1 orange, sliced into rounds and then halved
1 lime, sliced into rounds
10 sprigs parsley, whole
10 sprigs thyme, whole
1 egg white
2 Tb water

Preheat your oven to 450 F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (not absolutely necessary but beneficial).  Prepare fish; stuff cavity of fish with the citrus and the herbs.  Don't overstuff, but take care that the cavity is nicely packed.

In a large bowl, combine the salt, egg white, and water and form a wet mixture.  It needs to be moist and chunky but not liquefied.

On the sheet pan, lay down a 1/2'' thick layer of the salt mixture the approximate length of the fish and a little wider.  Place the fish on top of the salt and cover the fish in an even layer of the remaining salt mixture.  The tail and the mouth can be left uncovered.  Lightly pack the salt on; don't crush the fish but do make sure the salt forms a dome.  Think back to the days you played in sand or snow and tried to build tunnels.

Bake the fish 25-30 minutes or until salt crust is lightly browned.  Pull from oven and let rest/cool approx 10 minutes.  Break or loosen crust and peel off fish.  Using serrated knife, peel off skin and place flesh on a plate, taking care to remove any bones or to avoid the bones altogether.  Lift skeleton off and repeat with bottom half of fish.


  • We used a yellow-tailed snapper and purchased it from Whole Foods.  Most nicer grocery stores will not only have whole fish; the guys behind the counter (are they always fish mongers?) will gut, de-gill, and de-fin for you.  Thank God for those people.
  • We used orange, lime, parsley, and thyme because we had it.  Feel free to use whatever you want!
  • If you're feeding more than two people, use the general rule that you want 1 lb of fish per person.  
  • You want approx. 1 lb. Kosher salt per pound of fish.  The avg. box contains 3 lb of Kosher salt.
  • Other fish that work well include snappers, striped bass, salmon, etc.  

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