This is a strange but amazingly delicious method to cook a whole fish, and does not taste overly salty at all.
It is very easy to make, and fun and sociable to eat.
The meat just magically separates itself from the bones, and almost presents itself as a fillet because it’s so easy to separate.I picked this technique off Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef, and you can apply it to any whole fish of whatever size you like: from little red mullets to a large salmon (as my mother used to do).
The oven temperature is preheated to the maximum, and the cooking time is advised to be 10 minutes per 450 grams of the fish’s weight.
The salt absorbs moisture from the cooking fish to form a single hard crust, which you can easily break and pull off in large chunks.
I prefer this method to other methods I found online which require egg whites to be mixed in with the salt, an addition I have found to be completely unnecessary.
whole fish, gutted and cleaned
coarse sea salt
Preheat you oven to its maximum temperature.
Over-stuff the belly of the fish with lemon slices and the fresh herbs of choice (dill, parsley, coriander, basil…).
Make sure some herbs stick out from the belly so the salt stays on the fish and not in it.
Place a large sheet on foil in a rimmed baking sheet.
Cover the base with roughly 2 centimeters of coarse salt.
Place the stuffed fish on the salt.
Crimp the foil around the fish to “hug” it cosily.
Sprinkle more salt on the fish, also a centimeter or two thick.
Drizzle a little water on the salt, which will help to form a crust.
Cook in the middle of the oven to 10 minutes per 450 grams of fish.
So it your fish weighed 900 grams, it should cook for 20 minutes, and so on.
After baking, allow your fish to rest in its salt crust for about 15 minutes, during which it will continue to cook and allow the juices to redistribute, making for easy fillet-ing.
Gently break away the salt crust, making sure to not pierce the skin.
Serve with some fresh bread, a crisp green salad, some fresh lemon wedges, and a couple of dips.