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- 4 pounds coarse sea salt
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- One 4-pound whole salmon, gutted and cleaned
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch thyme leaves
- 1 bunch basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
- 1 bunch sage leaves, cut into chiffonade
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a larger glass bowl, stir together the salt and eggs until the mixture resembles wet sand. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay out a 1 ½-inch-thick layer of the salt and egg mixture. Place the salmon on top of the salt. Line the cavity of the fish with lemon slices and fill with the herbs. Be careful not to overstuff. The top and bottom slices of fish should meet up. Cover the salmon with the remaining salt and egg mixture, place in the oven, and bake for 45-55 minutes, until tender.
Remove from the oven and take off the crust immediately so the fish does not continue to bake. Discard the lemon and herbs. Peel back the skin and transfer the top half of the salmon onto a serving platter. Remove the spine and bones, discard them, and transfer the bottom half of the fish onto the platter. Serve immediately.
Sea bass baked in salt crust with a recipe from 330 B.C.
Sea bass in salt crust is a simple recipe with impressive presentation and flavour, which has its roots way back in the mists of time. It’s impressive because there is the ceremony of inviting your guests into the kitchen to see you bringing the fish, still in its crust, out of the oven and then breaking through the salt crust, revealing a wonderful juicy fish, which creates surprise and often a round of applause! However it’s also extremely simple, because with the minimum of ingredients and easy technique you have a delicious, showstopper of a meal without needing sophisticated culinary knowledge. Sea bass in salt crust is the perfect recipe for anyone who is timid about cooking fish – this is a no-brainer recipe with guaranteed fantastic results every time!
The technique of baking in salt crust has a long history and as always, there are many theories as to when and where it first started.
One theory is that it originated with the Mongols who travelled on horseback carrying meat which had been salted to preserve it, and which they baked in the fire in its salt crust. The earliest written reference in China which is of a similar chicken recipe, is that of Dong Jing, in Guandong, during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
However, as is so often the case – scratch the surface a little,
and you’ll find a Greek involved!
Laura Kelley, who writes the wonderful Silk Road Gourmet blog, has found reference to a salt-crust recipe in the epic poem “Hyppathia”, written by the Greek Epicurean poet, Archestratos, who lived around 330 BC. in Sicily. Archestratos, who is considered to have written the first book of biology and dietetics in the world, highlighted the value of fish as a healthy food and espoused simple cooking methods, usually with a few selected herbs and spices, which led to a particularly light, but extremely gourmet cuisine.
It seems Archestratos was an ambassador of nouvelle cuisine in antiquity! However, the historical origin of the recipe written about by Archestratus, is presumed to have its roots even further in the past, with the Phoenicians in Carthage, who built an empire based on the trade of salt, salt-cured fish and garum (a fermented fish sauce).
Archestratos’ fish recipe recommends gutting the fish, filling the belly with a few sprigs of thyme and then coating it with thick salt mixed with a little water and egg white … which is, almost exactly our sea bass in salt crust recipe.
The wonderful thing about this recipe is that by using a salt-crust, you don’t have to worry about the fish getting too dry. The crust holds in all the juices and flavour while the fish cooks – but it doesn’t get salty either, as the fact that we cook the fish with the scales still on, prevents the salt being absorbed through the skin. The other great advantage of cooking fish in this way is that, because all the flavour is kept inside the crust, no smell escapes, so the whole house won’t smell of cooked fish.
I included this sea bass in salt crust recipe on the menu of my restaurant that I used to have on the Greek island of Tinos and it was a huge hit with our customers – Greeks and foreign visitors alike. Many people said it was the tastiest, most tender fish they had ever had! Little did they imagine how easy it is to create such a wow-factor dish with so little effort!
This is a recipe that makes the most of a good fresh fish bought the same day and suits most largish fish such as seabass, sea bream (dorade), grouper or red snapper. If you can’t find whole fish, then use a large fillet wrapped in greaseproof paper (playing the role of the fish scales) which will then sit in the salt. Just make sure that none of the fish touches the salt directly.
(count on 250g of deboned fish per person to work out how many fish you need)
1 x sea bass (or similar fish) 750 grams minimum or other large fish weighing in total up to 3 kilos
1.5kg – 3.5 kg coarse salt (depending on the weight and shape of fish)
optional stuffing : sprigs of fresh thyme or a few leaves of verbena or parsley
and / or 2 cloves of garlic
3-4 tablespoons capers
a little olive oil
salt in flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
2. Prepare the fish:
Ask your fishmonger to gut the fish, remove the gills and rinse it/them. You must leave the scales on, as they are protecting the salt from over-seasoning the fish, through osmosis via the skin, while being cooked. Place the herbs – parsley or verbena – inside the fish along with 1-2 finely chopped cloves of garlic (optional) and then close it, bringing the two parts of the belly together, folding one edge on top of the other, so that salt does not enter.
3. Cover the fish with salt
Now, take the baking pan that you’re going to cook the fish in, line with greaseproof paper to make it easy to clean (you’ll thank me later!) and pour in a layer of salt to create a base on which the fish will sit. Place the fish on the salt base and cover it/them completely with the remaining salt , sprinkling with just a bit of water, so that the salt sticks to the sides, making sure there are no gaps. Put the fish in the preheated oven.
Note: The original recipe called for a mixture of salt and egg white to ensure that the salt makes a solid crust. I have experimented with plain salt selectively sprinkled by water and found that it gives exactly the same result without the fuss of beating egg whites and mixing them with salt. You might end up using a bit more salt because it is not as malleable as the mixture with egg whites, but a few minutes in the oven and the salt crust becomes airtight!
4. Baking – Filleting:
Allow 25 minutes for 1 sea bass fish weighing 700-800g, 35 minutes for one or two fish totalling 1.5 kg or 45 minutes for three fish totalling 2.2kg.
Once the fish is ready, take the pan to a worktop in the kitchen (it’s a bit messy to do it in the dining room) and, using a sharp knife and a tenderising mallet or regular hammer, break the hardened salt crust, putting the pieces in another bowl to be thrown away (see video above).
Remove all of the salt from the upper side of the fish. Pick the fish up carefully out of the crust and transfer it to a serving dish to fillet it and serve.
Serve at the table onto warmed plates. You could accompany it with steamed/grilled vegetables or a rocket salad with olive oil and lemon juice. Place a few capers on top of the filleted fish, drizzle a little olive oil over it, and sprinkle a few salt flakes. The ideal wine would be a white dry and very sharp Assyrtiko from the island of Santorini.
This dish is versatile and can go with practically anything. Some low carb/keto ideas include, on top of a bed of lettuce, steamed veggies, cauliflower rice, or LCA’s cauliflower rice risotto .
For this recipe, you should be able to pick up all necessary ingredients at your local supermarket.
Now, let’s get baking some Parmesan crusted salmon in time for dinner!
Prepping Time 1M
Cook Time 9M
Total Time 10M
- 2 lbs Salmon Fillet (skin or skinless)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp Lemon Pepper (use about 2 tsp if you prefer stronger seasoning)
- 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Stalk Green Onion
- 4 Lemon Wedges (optional)
1) Gather all the ingredients.
3) Chop green onions and set them aside.
4) Pat down any liquid on the salmon fillets with a paper towel and generously sprinkle salt, black pepper, and lemon pepper. Cut fillet long ways into 2 inches wide slices and then generously sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese on top.
5) Transfer salmon fillets onto a silicone baking mat and bake on the middle rack for 9-10 minutes or until the meat easily flakes off with a fork.
6) Top with chopped green onions and serve with optional lemon wedge. Best enjoyed with steamed vegetables of choice!
Hope you enjoy your low-carb/keto Baked Salmon with Parmesan Crust!
If you’re looking for other recipe ideas, be sure to check out our growing Recipe Index full of Keto inspired recipes!
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Double-line a baking tray large enough to fit the fish with baking parchment or oiled foil.
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then mix with the salt. Now you want to cover the fish in the salt mix to make an “oven”. Put enough of the salt mix on the baking tray to provide a base large enough for the salmon, then put the fish on top. Tuck the lemon and thyme into the cavity. Spread the rest of the salt mix over the fish so it’s covered (you don’t need to bother with the tail). Messy, but worth it! You can now leave it in the fridge for a few hours until you are ready to bake it.
To cook, heat the oven to 180C fan, gas 6. A fish of this size will take 50-60 minutes to cook through – if you want to check, you should be able to insert a metal skewer through the hard crust and straight through the fish without any resistance.
To serve, break the crust – it will come off in big chunks. Remove the skin and put the fish on a serving board with fresh lemon wedges and herbs. Ease off the top fillet then pull away the main bone, which will come away easily, then serve the bottom fillet. Make sure you ease away the side bones.
Salt Baked Fish | Salmon Recipes | Salt Dough Recipe
My salt baked fish is dry cured first with a hint of Indian spice then covered in a salt crust and baked in the oven.
The assembly of this salmon recipe is fun but the reveal is what gives you the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. Have a look at the picture of the salmon before the salt is removed.
Salt baked salmon is wonderful, in fact anything salt crusted is wonderful.
My salt dough recipe is really easy to make and can be used to insulate pretty much any ingredient although salt baked fish is one of my favourites.
Once you’ve mastered your salt dough recipe (and you can see my salt dough recipe below) you can simply pack this around any number of foods cooked whole.
Want more fish recipes?
I first came across salt baked fish whilst travelling through Laos, Vientiane to be specific. We were sitting at a little plastic table and chair street food stall right on the edge of the Mekong river and these guys were dishing out salt crusted fish (I’m not sure what fish exactly, but a white fish bit like seabass).
Once the salt crusted shell was cracked open the fish was so succulent and delicious and simple. It was a very pure dish that I knew I’d have to recreate it, so here is my salt baked fish recipe just for you!
In my recipe, cracking open the solid salt crust shell releases a delicate spiced aroma and reveals the most succulent, firm, delicious salmon. A whole salmon or trout also works very well with this method of cooking – in fact it works alot better that a fillet.
Salt Baked Fish – Ingredients:
Tablespoon of good quality maple syrup
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of table salt
3 bay leaves
1 dry red chilli (medium heat)
1 star anise
Add ground spice to salt/sugar mix
Salt Dough Recipe:
3 cups course salt
3 egg whites
Few turns black pepper mill
- Cover the salmon with the dry cure blend, rubbing the cure into the flesh of the salmon and cover fully in the cure. If using a whole fish then just fill the cavity of the fish with the curing mixture.
- After 45 minutes of curing time, remove the salmon and quickly wash off the cure thoroughly in gentle running water. Then dry (I wrap mine in a kitchen towel).
- While the salmon is drying make your salt dough / salt crust. Simply tip all the course salt into a bowl and break the egg whites into the salt. You want the consistency of wet sand and depending on the size of your eggs you may need two or three.
- Mix together with your hands until consistency is reached.
- On a piece of baking paper on a roasting tray, create a salt crust bed to place the salmon on skin side down. Then totally cover the entire fish with the salt crust.
- Put in an oven at 200 for approx 25 minutes (you can check by placing a knife into the fish and then touching the tip against your lip to see if it is warm).
- Remove from the oven and crack open the crust with the back of a knife to reveal the fish and remove from the salt crust – this is the bit that is quite fun to do with your diners for the theatre of it all!
- Tip – use a pastry brush to gently sweep off any large salt crumbs.
- Then before plating up drizzle a little of the maple syrup over the salmon and wipe it over the top of salmon with a back of a spoon. This isn’t a sauce, it is just a very delicate means of adding a hint of subtle sweetness.
Goes well with rosemary roast potatoes and a light green salad and the obligatory “I thought it would taste really salty but it doesn’t does it?” question.
- 1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 (10-ounce / 280-g) skin-on salmon fillets
- 2 small blood oranges, thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch fresh thyme
- Ovenproof cotton string
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a medium baking dish with parchment paper.
- For the salt crust, combine the salt, flour, cornstarch, egg whites and cold water in a large bowl and use your fingers or a tablespoon to quickly mix until combined. Spread a thin layer of the salt mixture, roughly the size of 1 salmon fillet, in the middle of the lined baking dish.
- For the salmon, whisk together the crushed black peppercorns and turmeric and rub the mixture into the pink side of each salmon fillet then spread the blood orange slices, slightly overlapping, on top. Arrange the thyme on top of 1 salmon fillet and top with the second fillet, so that the skin side of each fillet is on the outside. Tie the salmon fillets together with ovenproof cotton string and arrange on top of the salt mixture in the baking dish. Using your fingers, gently pack the remaining salt mixture over and around the salmon until it’s covered. If the salt mixture is too dry, add a little more water. The salt may slide down a little and have some cracks, but that’s fine — just try to seal the fish inside the crust as much as possible.
- Bake for 55 minutes or until a metal skewer, poked through the crust into the thickest part of the salmon, is warm to the touch when you pull it out of the salmon.
- Let the salt crust cool for 2 minutes then carefully break it open with a sharp bread knife. Scrape the salt off the salmon, divide the fillets and orange slices among plates and serve immediately.
A recipe from 365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking by Meike Peters (Prestel). Buy the book here.
Whole Salt Baked Salmon
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Season cavity of salmon with Maldon salt and pepper. Fill the cavity with the fennel leaves and stalks.
Fill the bottom of a large roasting or baking pan with a 1/2-inch layer of salt. Place the fish on its side, on top of the salt. Pile the remaining sea salt over the fish, completely covering it by at least 1/2 inch all over. If the head and tail protrude from the pan, place a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum under tail and head to prevent salt from falling into your oven. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over the surface of the salt.
Transfer roasting pan to oven, and bake salmon until cooked through, 45 to 60 minutes. To test if the fish is cooked, poke a metal skewer or kitchen fork through the salt and into the fish where the fish is the thickest. Pull the skewer out: If the skewer is warm to the touch, then the salmon is cooked. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let rest until cool enough to handle.
Using your fingers, break off the salt crust from the top of the fish the skin should have stuck to the salt and should peel away as you do this. If the skin does not pull away when you remove the salt, use a paring knife to gently lift the skin away from the fillet. Carefully lift the entire fish out of the pan. Peel away any remaining skin and salt stuck to the underside place the fish on a cutting board.
Cut the fillets off the bones, and serve at room temperature, garnished with Salsa Verde.
How to Prep the Salmon
To help the salmon cook evenly, we need to “take the chill off” before sticking it in the oven. So, the first step is to let the salmon sit at room temperature while the oven preheats for 15 to 20 minutes.
While that’s happening, use a paper towel to pat the salmon dry and get rid of any excess moisture. Then, run your finger along the centerline to feel for any bones. If you find any use fish tweezers or your fingertips to firmly and slowly pull it out.
Salt Baked Wild Salmon
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 1 H, 30 M
- Serves 8 to 12
Ingredients US Metric
- For the tomato aioli
- 3 large organic egg yolks
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 to 8 Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, cooled
- Scant 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- For the wild salmon
- 1 wild salmon (9 lbs), cleaned but not scaled
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- 1 branch wild fennel or fronds from 1 fennel bulb
- 11 pounds coarse rock salt or coarse sea salt (see above Note)
- For the potatoes
- 2 1/4 pounds new potatoes, washed
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Handful of purslane or pea shoots (when in season)
Place the egg yolks in a blender or food processor, add the garlic, lemon juice, a little salt and pepper, and the tomatoes, then whiz briefly to combine. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil through the feeder tube in a very slow, steady stream. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. (This can be made up to a day in advance.)
Preheat the oven to its highest setting, at least 500°F (260°C or convection oven to 475°F). Rinse the fish inside and out under cold running water, then pat it dry. Place the lemon slices and fennel inside the cavity. Don’t bother to season the fish.
Place the rock salt in a large bowl and add enough cold water to yield the consistency of wet sand. (This can take as much as 4 cups, depending on the type of salt, but start with just 1 cup of water.) Mix with your hands.
Spread half of the salt mixture on a large baking sheet or in a shallow roasting pan to create a flat, even surface. Lay the fish on top and cover with the rest of the salt, packing it firmly around the fish, as if you were burying someone at the beach.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fish is barely cooked. To test, pierce the thickest part of the fish through to the bone with a sharp knife. If the knife tip feels warm to the touch when you withdraw it, the fish is ready. If not, cook it for a little longer. Set the pan aside to rest and cool to room temperature. The fish will continue to cook in the residual heat as it cools within its salt crust.
Cook the potatoes in well-salted boiling water until very tender and almost falling apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and, while still warm, sprinkle them with the lemon juice, season with lots of pepper, and a little more salt if necessary. Add the olive oil and toss well to combine. Then add the purslane and toss again.
Crack the salt crust open with the handle of a knife or a rolling pin. Carefully remove the salt and peel off the skin from the fish. Serve the beautiful, succulent salmon warm or at room temperature with the warm potatoes and tomato aïoli.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
The “beautiful and succulent salmon” context is an awesome description. The salmon was a flavor and texture we’d never experienced before, and the tomato aioli and potatoes finished the dish perfectly. We paired it with La Crema 2007 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, and it was the perfect meal for entertaining. However, I do suggest cracking the salt crust in the kitchen the first few times. I could only find a 3-pound whole wild salmon, so I used 4 pounds of coarse rock salt and baked it for about 20 to 23 minutes. It served four nicely, with a few delicious leftovers the next day. Piercing the thickest part of the fish and feeling the knife tip was the perfect test for doneness.
This salmon recipe is a showstopper. It looks beautiful on the table, and is succulent, rich, and buttery in taste. The aioli is subtle and a great pairing for the fish. I used a convection oven at 475°F, and a 7-pound fish instead of 9 pounds the recipe called for. Placing lemons and fennel into fish cavities is nothing new, but oh, what flavour! I unfortunately couldn’t find new potatoes, so I used baby potatoes instead. The potatoes were good, nothing spectacular, but they were nice with this particular dish, as clean flavours are desirable with salmon. The salt crust is a fun and tasty experiment. It imparts a well-seasoned flavour to the fish without it ending up salty at all. I used about three cups of water to nine cups of rock salt. It baked for 15 minutes, which was just perfect—barely done. Cracking the crust when the fish was done was lots of fun, especially for our guests who had never done it before. The salmon was flaky and oozing with tenderness. This recipe varies little from others I’ve seen or tried. However, it’s still a reliable recipe using a lesser-known technique to impress both eyes and palate.
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Salt-Crust Baked Salmon Recipe - Recipes
Makes 6 to 10 main-course servings
When I first read about a recipe for a whole fish baked in salt, I was skeptical, suspecting the salt was for show and little else. But with a little experimenting, I did find that the salt enhances the flavor of fish, and cracking open the hardened salt casing has a dramatic effect at the table.
The easiest way to enclose a whole fish in salt is to use an oval baking dish a few inches longer and wider than the fish, fill it with about a third of the salt mixture, place the fish on top, pack the rest of the salt over it, and set the whole thing on a sheet pan in a 400 degrees F oven.
Because my oval baking dish isn't large, I only bake a whole salmon when I can find one that will fit&mdashwhich means no more than 5 pounds. Since most farmed salmon are at least 8 pounds, you may have to order a small one or keep a look-out for so-called pink salmon, which is smaller and often a bargain. If you want to bake a larger salmon, measure your largest sheet pan to make sure the fish will fit and then wrap the fish and salt with a triple layer of aluminum foil instead of baking it in a dish. Count on 1-1/2 times as much salt (by weight) than fish and make sure that the fish is enclosed on all sides by at least a 1/2-inch-thick layer of salt crust&mdashyou shouldn't see the fish through the salt. Use coarse salt&mdashI use kosher salt because it's cheap.
one 5- to 7-pound whole salmon,
scaled, gutted, and gills removed
6 or more egg whites, as needed
7 to 10 pounds kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, if using aluminum foil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse and dry the fish thoroughly. Whisk together the egg whites and 1/2 cup cold water and combine it with the salt in a large mixing bowl. Work the mixture with your hands to distribute the water and egg whites in the salt. The salt mixture should hold together when you press a mound of it together between the palms of your hands. If it doesn't, work in another egg white.
If you're using a baking dish, select an oval one about 2 inches longer than the salmon. Fill the baking dish about a third full with the salt mixture and place the salmon on top. Cover the top and sides of the fish with the rest of the salt mixture and smooth over the salt with your hands or a spatula. If you're using aluminum foil, roll out a sheet of aluminum foil 3-1/2 times the length of the salmon. Fold the aluminum foil over itself lengthwise until you have a 10-inch wide triple-thick strip that's still 3-1/2 times the length of the salmon. Brush a sheet pan with oil and place the salmon on top. Place the aluminum foil around the fish and shape the foil so that it curves all around the fish with about 1 inch between fish and foil. Attach the ends of the aluminum foil strip with a paper clip or by just pinching the top of one end over the other end. Lift the salmon off the sheet pan and fill the mold with about 1/3 of the salt mixture&mdashthere should be a 1/2-to 3/4-inch thick layer of salt. Place the salmon on top. Spread the rest of the salt mixture over and around the fish and smooth over its surface with your hands.
Bake the salmon for 40 minutes to an hour. Start checking the temperature after 40 minutes by inserting an instant-read thermometer through the layer of salt. (You may have to twist and push a little to get the thermometer to penetrate through the salt.) When the fish measures 125 degrees F, take it out of the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes so the heat will continue to penetrate to the middle.
Bring the fish to the table on its sheet pan or on a large platter&mdashsomething big enough to catch flying salt&mdashand crack the salt crust with a mallet or a hammer. Pull back the salt layer and peel off the skin with a fork. Serve on hot plates in the same way as whole poached salmon (see page 109 in the book).
by James Peterson
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
$19.95, June 2001
160 Pages&mdash65 Recipes, 50 Full-Color Photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.