Ladies this fish dish one of my favorite dishes. Salt crusting is an ancient tequnique that makes for an impressive presentation .While you may think that baking fish in salt will make it taste salty but the salt crusting keeps the fish extremely moist almost ike steaming it. Be sure to use the freshest fish you can find make sure that you have it gutted and de-scaled. I will usually use sea bass, red snapper, or branzino.
1 3-pound box of kosher salt or sea salt ( I prefer coarse sea salt)
4 egg whites
1 whole fish, about 2 pounds. ; the fish should be left whole but cleaned and scaled
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary (you can use whatever fresh herbs you like I sometimes use fresh fennel, cilantro, oregano, or rosemary...usually whatever is in the fridge)
1/2 fresh lemon, cut in thin slices
1-3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400º F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the salt with the egg whites. Using your clean hands, mix the salt and egg whites together until combined. The texture will seem like wet beach sand.
3.Use a large rimmed sheet pan and line it with a piece of parchment paper.
Remove the fish from the refrigerator and rinse it with cool water. Pat it completely dry, inside and out, with paper towels.
5. Place the fish on the parchment-lined sheet pan.
6.Season the fish cavity with salt and freshly ground pepper and add the sprigs of fresh herbs and 3 or 4 slices of fresh lemon.
7. Rub the outside fish with a teaspoon or so of olive oil.
8. Using your hands to scoop the salt-egg white mixture, place some of the salt on the bottom of the panplace the fish on top of that, cover the fish with the salt until it is completely covered. The salt will make direct contact with the fish's skin and should create a covering that is about 1/2-inch thick. Pat the crust all over to make sure it's intact and sturdy and that every bit of fish is covered so that when the crust bakes it makes an air-tight surface that keeps in the moisture.
9. Place the pan in the center of the pre-heated oven and roast for 25 minutes. The crust will become a light golden brown, especially around the edges, and it will have completely hardened.
10. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 20 minutes (it will stay warm for up to an hour). When ready to serve, use a small hammer, the back of a chef's knife, or another kitchen tool to crack the salt crust which will have become hard during the roasting. Break the crust off in pieces until the fish is entirely revealed. ( I like to do this at the table it makes for "dramatic" serving) Discard all the pieces of the salt crust.
11. To remove the cooked meat, carefully slice around the fillet and remove it to a serving platter. The meat will be very tender so handle it carefully so that it won't fall apart.
Serve with slices of fresh lemon or a homemade sauce. I blend olive oil with a littl lemon and herbs and drizzle over the top of the fish.