Salt-Crusted Striped Bass
Created by Chef Thomas Bellec
- 3 pounds kosher salt
- 6 large rosemary sprigs
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons pink peppercorn
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- One 2 1/2-pound whole stripe bass or dorado with scales, gutted
- Prep the fish: Leaving the scales on will make it easier to peel off the salty skin later. Gut the fish and remove the fins and gills, then rinse and pat dry.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the crust: In a large bowl, combine salt with enough egg whites (or water) to create a wet-sand feeling. If you want, you can add herbs or spices, such as black pepper, coriander, star anise, oregano, bay leaves, sprigs of fresh rosemary, or fresh thyme.
- Line the vessel: You can use almost any oven-safe baking dish for salt-baking whole fish. An oval roasting dish has the most fish-like shape, but you can also use a rimmed baking sheet, roasting pan, or casserole. Line your baking dish with an even layer of salt about ⅓-inch thick. (If your pan is much larger than the size of your fish, just line the area that the fish will occupy.) This salt layer on the bottom will protect the fish from the heat of the pan.
- Stuff and cover the fish: Fill the cavity of the fish with thinly sliced citrus and sprigs of fresh herbs. Use the remaining salt mixture to completely cover the fish. It doesn’t have to look perfect, but make sure to cover the entire fish, since anything exposed to air will cook faster than the parts covered with salt.
- Bake the fish: Remove the fish from the oven when a thermometer inserted through the crust into the thickest part of the fish registers 125°F, about 20 minutes for a one-pound fish. After removing the fish from the oven, let it rest for 5–10 minutes but not longer.
- Remove the crust: Use a serrated knife or the sharp end of a fish spatula to slice around the circumference of the crust, carefully avoiding cutting into the fish. Lift the salt crust off. Brush off excess salt with a pastry brush. Remove the skin and fillet the fish tableside or in the kitchen. Serve fillets with lemon wedges and olive oil.