Sea Bass Baked in Coarse Sea Salt

Recipe update from Feb,01, 2008

This dish isn’t unique to just Greek cuisine. I’ve seen fish baked in coarse sea salt in many countries that hug the Mediterranean basin. Everyone’s in on baking whole fish in a salt crust: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece.  If I haven’t noted your country, do you folks also bake fish in this manner?

Once again, I’m using a whole fish. This way, I can inspect the fish for freshness and I’ll end up with a moister and tastier fish.

Let me tell you what this not – definitely NOT SALTY. The sea salt acts like a crust, enveloping the body, leaving you with a moist and succulent end result. The sea salt is “insulation” during the baking process.

The sea salt imparts enough seasoning to the fish without the dish becoming inedible. What you do want to do is carefully remove the skin of the fish after baking. The skin IS salty but once you remove the skin, you’re left with a moist, perfectly seasoned fish.

You’ll need a whole fish for this method, such as a red snapper, sea bass, trout or a salmon. This method also works well with a smaller fish, like mackerel or this case, two whole sea bream. Just line the fish up in a row on your baking tray and cover the bodies of the fish with the salt mixture. The head and tail end may be exposed (not covered with salt).

I’ve added the zest of 1 lemon into the salt mixture. This imparted a lovely, lemon aroma to the fish.

Sea Bass Baked In Coarse Sea Salt
(serves 2)

1 whole large fish or 2 whole sea bream (bass), gutted and scaled

2 cups of coarse sea salt

approx. 1/2  cup of cold water

1/3 cup flour

3 egg whites

zest of 1 lemon

3-4 sprigs of thyme

parsley

lemon slices

Preheated 450F oven

Ladolemono with Scallions & Thyme

1/4 cup lemon juice

splash of orange juice

1 tsp. of Dijon mustard

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. scallions (or chives) finely chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Rinse and pat-dry your fish and reserve.
  2. In a bowl, add your salt, flour, egg whites and lemon zest and while stirring with a spoon,  gradually add the water. Keep adding the water until the mixture starts to adhere/becoming pasty.
  3. Place your parsley, thyme and lemon slices into the cavity of the fish.
  4. Spoon a layer of the salt mixture onto a baking sheet and then place the fish on top (you just need enough to insulate the bottom part of the fish). Now cover the fish with the remainder of the salt mixture. It’s okay to leave the head and the tail exposed.
  5. Place in the middle-top part of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. In the meantime, add all your ladolemono ingredients in a jar and shake well to emulsify. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and reserve.
  6. Remove the fish and allow the fish to cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Using the flat side of the meat tenderizer, hammer gently at the crust to crack it open. Carefully (it could still be hot) remove the salt crust to expose your fish.
  8. Use the dull part of a knife to carefully scrape and remove the salty skin from the body (leave the skin on the head and tail on for presentation purposes). Carefully flip the fish and remove the skin from the other side. Carefully transfer to a platter and serve with a Greek Oil/Lemon Sauce (Ladolemono).
  9. Serve with a Megapanos Savatiano white.

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© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

© 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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41 Comments for “Sea Bass Baked in Coarse Sea Salt”

Proud Italian Cook

says:

Anyway, I have seen fish done this way many times on TV, it looks very moist when its done, I like the addition of the olive oil and lemon, was wondering, does it taste salty at all?

Peter G

says:

What a great and simple method to cook a fish. I’ve often seen it but never tried it. looks great as usual Peter.

Cakelaw

says:

This looks superb Peter. I have always wanted to try cooking a chicken or a fish with a salt crust, but for some reason have been a little afraid of it. After reading your post, I am once again tempted to give it a go.

Kevin

says:

I have never had anything baked in salt. It sounds like an interesting way of cooking. The fish looks good.

Emiline

says:

I love how cool that looks! I feel a little bad for the fish, though. That oven was really hot.
I wonder what the purpose of the egg whites is?
Maybe it binds the salt and water together?

Shandy

says:

I haven’t baked another fish with the salt crust since and now that you have it pictured here in your blog, well, I am going to have to make another one! Delicious! =D
Shandy

Bellini Valli

says:

Finally I can gloat (just a little) with our warmer weather. We have had quite a lot of snow this past winter. When I have been talking to my mom & dad in Cambridge, Ontario all this winter they have had the benefit of gloating.In BC they don’t throw down salt on the roads, just dirt. I think I go through a windshield every year! Of course in Victoria they will be counting their daffodils soon. I have read about this salt method of cooking and have bookmarked it to try.

Pam

says:

Peter, I just saw a recipe that called for roasting shrimp on top of a bed of salt. There wasn’t any salt on top, though, the shrimp just rested on the salt. Do you think that would be good? Would the salt even accomplish anything?

Wandering Chopsticks

says:

I was completely mystified about what you were cooking. I bet that salt and flour covering would make the fish incredibly moist.

says:

That looks so good. One thing I have noticed since I moved back to the mid west is that I do not eat as much sea food as i used to. I was good for fish a min of 3 x a week. Lots more pork and chicken now. Not that I am complaining… but damn seeing this makes me drool for the swimmers again…

says:

Thanks for this recipe. As you said this is a way of cooking from a little all over the Mediterranean countries. I am originally from Portugal and LOVE this method of cooking my fish. It keeps in moist and filled with flavour.

says:

I do love fish baked this way! I’ve recently heard of flavouring the salt with citrus the way you do, and it sounds like a brilliant idea, but I’ve not tried it yet.

says:

I’m still drooling over the creamy asparagus — but I think I’m going to make a quick transition over to drooling on your fish! Delish, Peter!

gasteroplix

says:

τέλειο το ψαράκι, έλα να παραλάβεις ένα ηλιόλουστο βραβείο από την πατρίδα

says:

I have heard of this method of baking fish Peter and even saw them use the same method for potatoes with no overly salty flavour imparted into the dish. It keeps the fish amazingly moist. The
Ladolemono doesn’t hurt either!!!

says:

I’ve got to [shamefully] admit that I have always hesitated to try this method because I feel bad making all that wonderful coarse sea salt go to waste. I’m nuts, I know, cause I can buy a large bottle of sea salt for less than two dollars!

Your fish looks great … especially with the ladolemono ;) . I think I will try my hand at this next time I have company over.

says:

Oh yes, in Slovenija we bake bass(and other big fishes) that way! We ate the bass on New Years day, even is under the zero out there :) For me this is the best way to prepare bass!

Snow-greatings from Ljubljana and thanks for fantastic, hot Greek recipes! ;)

says:

i won’t lie, and this will probably come as no surprise to you, but dang–that eye ball freaks me out. it distracts me from an otherwise delicious dish. :)

says:

I had fish cooked this way in Spain many years ago and was amazed that it was not salty. I’d really like to try making it one of these days. Of course, it’s enhanced with your ladelmono sauce.

Bridgett

says:

I have always wondered if the fish baked in a salt crust would come out salty…you think it definitely would but now I am intrigued enough to give it a try.

says:

This looks absolutely delicious. I did try and bake a fish once in a salt crust (it was a dorad) but when we took it out of the oven it wasn’t done yet. How do you check if the fish is cooked properly? Temperature?

says:

Peter! We typically don’t do that much here in Chicago. BUT, I must say…I’m certainly thinking of trying this – it looks amazing. I’m scared my fish would be too salty though…LOL

says:

Hey! It’s Jamie Oliver’s favorite method of cooking fish :) I’d love to try it sometime, though I feel guilty discarding all that salt, though :(

says:

I have seen recipes for a salt crust from France where there’s a lot more flour! I need to try that someday, I just need to wait for the inspiration to strike!

says:

I have always wanted to do this and now you make it looks so incredibly easy and delicious!!!!I am inspired now, Peter!!! Happy New Year!!!

says:

I believe this is one of the best way to cook fish. Very delicious! And i love the ladolemono with scallions & thyme on top of that. Damn good idea!

Happy New Year, Petah! Hope it brings you (and us) plenty more delicious things.

says:

Looks so good! In Azerbaijan we salt-dry the fish – we “bury” the fish in lots of coarse salt, then leave it in a cool place for about a week. It becomes extremely flavorful. Then cook with it. Thanks for the recipe. Happy New Year!