The salt-baking technique both looks fantastic and results in the most tender and moist fish. The salt pack hardens in the oven, allowing the fish to steam in its own juices with the herbs and citrus. To serve, present the salt-packed fish to the table and then wallop the shell like you would crème brûlée to reveal the beautiful cooked fish inside.
3 lb (1.35 kg) Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt
Grated zest of 2 large lemons
8 sprigs thyme, chopped
4 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) red pepper flakes
5 large egg whites, beaten
1 cleaned whole fish of your choice (about 2 lb/900 g), rinsed and patted dry
Olive oil and lemon wedges, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
In a large bowl, stir together salt, lemon zest, thyme, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Add egg whites and continue stirring until mixture resembles wet sand.
Place half of the salt mixture in the bottom of a baking dish that is slightly larger than the fish. Lay fish on top and cover completely with remaining salt mixture, packing it down, and leaving tail end exposed, if necessary.
Bake fish for 25 minutes or until cooked through.
To serve, gently crack salt layer with the back of a spoon to expose fish. Most of the skin will come off, too. Use a sharp knife to gently remove any skin that remains on the fish.
Fillet fish into 4 portions and transfer to slightly warmed plates. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a lemon wedge.
Ready to make this recipe? Get started by finding out where to buy certified seafood.
Chef-Owner of Ruby Watchco in Toronto, host of Pitchin' In & Chopped Canada on Food Network Canada & The Cooking Channel