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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Salt-Baked Whole Fish!

For a dramatic effect, place a little cognac around the salt dome and light it up, 
wait till the fires is out then crack the dome. Be careful don't burn yourself or start a fire!
Years ago, when I was living in Bahrain, Olivetto, a very trendy Italian Restaurant and lounge opened, and everyone was going mad about the Salt Fish. I hadn't tried the "salt fish" yet, but a long time ago, my mum had taught me a recipe to cook whole chicken in a dome of salt! I loved the chicken recipe, because back then I found it cool to cook in salt! Also because the outcome is a very moist chicken, that was very fragrant too! I loved it. Not to forget that when you cook in a dome of salt, you are always presented with the opportunity of a dramatic effect when serving. You get to crack the dome and allow for the aromas to kick start your taste buds... mmmm....
So when I heard about this fish, I thought it was a wonderful idea. I went and tried it and it was every bit of what I had expected and more. Delicious, moist, and best of all ultra light with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon! Heaven! I started making this recipe for special occasions and when I want to impress my guests with a theatrical presentation: with the lighting up of the salt, the cracking, the revealing of the fish and Finally the tasting!! Just look at their faces :) Love the Drama lol

I was so happy yesterday when I checked my email, Someone requested "Salt-baked Fish Recipe" :) I thought this is a perfect gift from my kitchen to yours... You have got to try this one, you will love it....

When making this dish keep in mind that it is intended to be very simple. The best foods are simple foods. This dish relies on the fish, a spring of fresh Thyme, a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for flavour, that is all. With that said, you can use flavoured salt, use rosemary instead of thyme...etc. Just don't over complicate it, and it is best kept simple, rather than complex flavours!
Sea Salt
For the fish, go for whole Sea Bass, Red Snapper, Grouper, Blue Eye...

to serve 6
You Need
1 large  whole fish or 2 medium whole fish, scaled and cavities cleaned
for more info on cleaning fish Check out my post Understanding Fish & Seafood part 1
3kg Sea salt
3 egg whites
2 lemons, sliced into circles
Fresh thyme springs
Olive oil for drizzling
Lemon wedges


Preheat your oven to 400F.


In a large bowl, mix egg whites and salt until totally incorporated. In a large baking dish, place some of the salt mixture to cover the bottom. This will be the base on which your fish will rest.

Rinse your fish with cold water, removing any stuck scales. Rinse the cavities well. Pat dry, the inside and outside of your fish with paper towels. Set on top of the salt base, in the baking dish. Put the lemon slices & thyme springs inside the cavities of your fish. sprinkle with black pepper. Cover the fish completely with the remaining salt and press firmly to seal.

Bake the fish for 30-40 minutes. The salt dome should be a slight golden brown colour and firm to the touch. To present the fish, bring to the table as it is on the baking dish. you can sprinkle a little bit of cognac and light it up, or you can skip this step.
Tap the top of the salt dome with your knife to crack it open. remove the salt to one side of the bakind dish. Sometimes the skin gets stuck to the salt and ends up being removed too. Not to worry, as you will habe to remove it yourself if it doesn't peel off with the salt.

Peel off the skin and cut off fillets of fish. Place on guest's serving plates. Sprinkle with EV Olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately.

Definitely one of my favourites!! Hope you like this recipe. Share your thoughts with me, would love to hear them, leave me a comment :)
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