Thursday, August 1, 2013

Whole fish roasted in salt

Fish cooked in a salt crust was one of our favorite dishes that we ate in Istanbul looking out over the Bosphorus and drinking glass after glass of crisp white wine with some of our closest friends. The presentation was dramatic- a tanned salt mound was wheeled out to the table on a cart where it was lit on fire before being gently cracked open to reveal delicious, tender filets cooked to perfection.

Recreating the dish at home seemed intimidating; I mean, that's a lot of salt. But after doing some research on the process, it seemed totally attainable, pyrotechnics aside.

It is a lot of salt. Once you get over that point, you are well on your way to an incredible dinner.

Whole Fish in a Salt Crust

1 whole fish ~3 lbs, gutted and cleaned by your fishmonger
(we cooked enough Bronzino for our dinner party crew, well almost enough, but one 3 lb fish should serve 3-4 people)
6-8 cups kosher salt
3-4 egg whites (1 for every 2 cups of salt)
1 lemon
handful of parsley or other herbs of your choosing

Pre-heat your oven to 425° F. Mix the salt and egg whites together to create a wet sand-like mixture. Create a 1/2" layer of the sand mixture on the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish large enough to hold the fish. Wash fish and pat dry with paper towels before placing on top of the salt layer.

Stuff cavity of fish with thinly sliced lemon and herbs. You can also tuck some lemon slices underneath the fish.

Mound remaining salt mixture on top of fish, taking care to cover completely. Bake for 25-30 minutes and remove from oven. The salt should be lightly tanned. Allow fish to rest for 10 minutes.

Gently crack salt crust and lift away. Scrape off skin and fillet fish. Serve drizzled with olive oil and with plenty of white wine to drink. View of Bosphorus not included.