Serves a Crowd

Whole Baked Fish in Sea Salt with Parsley Gremolata

January  4, 2010
3 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

The first time I tasted Pesce al Sale was at a restaurant in Milan. I remember the dramatic presentation of the baked fish encrusted in salt and cracked open tableside, revealing a steaming, aromatic and succulent fish. This preparation is my favorite way to eat a whole fish, and it's easy to do at home. Have your fishmonger clean and scale your fish for you. Once cooked, filet the fish and serve simply with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon and parsley gremolata. Note that since the fish cavity is stuffed the cooking time will run about 10 minutes longer than unstuffed. —TasteFood

Test Kitchen Notes

Whole Baked Fish in Sea Salt with Parsley Gremolata by TasteFood

This method for cooking a whole fish has the dual benefit of being both effective and fun. (Basically, it provides an opportunity to play with your food.) Another plus is flexibility, as it's the method that really counts here: cooking a whole fish in a salt crust keeps it incredibly tender and moist. TasteFood calls for a 5 pound fish, but we used a 2.5 pound red snapper, halved the rest of the ingredients and decreased the cooking time to roughly 25 minutes. The simple gremolata is a bright, refreshing adornment for an otherwise gorgeously simple piece of fish. - A&M —The Editors

  • Serves 6
  • For the fish:
  • 1 whole fish, approx. 5 lbs., such as snapper or sea bass
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch parsley sprigs
  • Fennel fronds from one bulb, halved lengthwise
  • 4 pounds coarse sea salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • For the Parsley Gremolata:
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Finely grated zest from one untreated lemon
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
  1. For the fish:
  2. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  3. Place lemon slices, parsley and fennel in cavity of the fish. Do not overstuff.
  4. Combine egg whites and sea salt in a bowl. Mix well to moisten salt.
  5. Spread 1/3 salt on bottom of large baking dish or pan. Lay fish on top. Pour remaining salt over fish, covering completely. If needed, tail can be exposed.
  6. Bake in oven 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes.
  7. Crack open crust with small hammer or knife. Remove and discard crust. Fillet fish.
  8. Arrange fish on warm plates. Drizzle with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice from wedges. Serve with Parsley Gremolata.
  1. For the Parsley Gremolata:
  2. Combine parsley, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and pepper.

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