Salt Crusted Fish
By: Jack Mancuso
My recipe for Salt Crusted Fish will leave you wanting more. While you’ll encase the whole fish in a thick layer of salt before being baked or roasted, the flavor of salt-crusted fish is not predominantly salty, as one might expect. Instead, the crust acts as a barrier, helping to retain the natural juices and flavors of the fish. You get delicate flavors, not in-your-face salt.
The specific flavor of salt-crusted fish can vary depending on the type of fish used and any additional seasonings or aromatics added to the cooking process. However, in general, the fish cooked in a Kosher salt crust will have a clean, pure taste with a subtle hint of salt that complements the natural flavors of the fish itself. Bass is a clean fish, very low on the “fishy” scale in flavor.
What is Kosher Salt
Kosher salt is coarse. It traditionally appears for koshering meats where, where the salt is used to draw out blood. Kosher salt is different from regular table salt in a few ways. Firstly, it has larger flakes or crystals, which make it easier to handle and sprinkle. The larger size also allows it to dissolve more slowly, providing a more gradual and even distribution of salt in recipes.
Another difference is that kosher salt does not contain any additives like iodine or anti-caking agents, which can sometimes impart a bitter taste to the salt. It is purely sodium chloride, making it a purer form of salt.
Kosher Salt vs. Sea Salt
When you buy sea salt, you can get it in various textures, ranging from coarse to fine, depending on the variety. Sea salt, as the name implies, comes from evaporated seawater or salt ponds. Kosher salt is mined.
The minerals in sea salt provide it with a more complex, nuanced flavor profile. Kosher salt has no surprises. It’s just salty! Of the two Kosher salt dissolves quickly. Sea salt may take longer to dissolve because of its larger crystal structure.
- 1 whole sea bass, 2-3 lbs
- 2 lemons
- ¼ cup parsley
- ¼ cup dill
- 2 sprigs of dill
- 1 egg white per pound
- 3 lbs. Kosher Salt
- Descale the fish and remove fins
- Cover a baking pan with aluminum foil
- Mix salt with dill and egg to make paste
- Cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of salt
- Lay down the fish.
- Stuff it with lemon slices and dill sprigs
- Begin packing it in salt
- Cover it like a dome
- Smoke at 400 for 30-45 minutes
- Remove the skin
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon
There are several benefits of cooking fish in a salt crust:
- Moisture retention: The salt crust creates a protective barrier around the fish, which helps to seal in the moisture. This results in a succulent and tender fish that retains its natural juiciness. The salt acts as an insulator, preventing the fish from drying out during the cooking process.
- Enhanced flavor: The salt crust not only seasons the fish but also infuses it with subtle flavors. As the fish cooks, the salt imparts a delicate salty taste (not overpowering) to the flesh. It also helps to amplify the natural flavors of the fish, making it more savory and delicious.
- Uniform cooking: By encasing the fish in a salt crust, the heat distributes evenly around the fish. This promotes uniform cooking, and decreases the chances of overcooking or undercooking certain parts of the fish.
- Aromatic infusion: Cooking fish in a salt crust allows for the addition of aromatic ingredients. You can add herbs, spices, citrus zest, etc. directly into the salt crust. As the salt bakes, it releases these fragrances, infusing the fish with their flavors. This adds depth and complexity to the overall taste profile of the fish.
- Impressive presentation: One of the visually appealing aspects of cooking fish in a salt crust is the presentation. The salt crust forms a hard, protective shell around the fish, which you dramatically crack open at the table. It creates a wow factor and makes for an impressive presentation when serving the dish to guests.
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