salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

by Stevie on September 11, 2012

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I have always wanted to try making a salt crusted fish, really ever since Emeril Lagasse made it on his show about ten years ago. It was so impressive when he cracked the fish out of its salty shell. He didn’t even need that trademark expression to pique my interest.

salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

This dish is simple—yes, simple. And it makes quite an impression for a dinner party, which is when I made this recipe for the first time. Two of our guests, Aime and Whitney, had just ordered this at an over-priced restaurant in Las Vegas for a whopping $150—for a single fish at that.

I used the recipe from epicurious which was much simpler than Tyler Florence’s. I made two since I had a group of five. This was perfect and even left a bit of fish for Clarence to enjoy later.

salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

2 pounds Kosher salt
1 cup water
2 pound whole red snapper, cleaned
1 lemon
Olive oil

here I am patting the salt over the red snapper

here I am patting the salt over the red snapper

it's time for the oven

it’s time for the oven

the guests are enjoying themselves as I work in the kitchen

the guests are enjoying themselves as I work in the kitchen

just out of the oven it looks like dirty snow

just out of the oven it looks like dirty snow

my first ever salt crusted red snapper

my first ever salt crusted red snapper

Pre-heat oven to 450F.

Cut lemon in half then slice one half into three or four rounds. Fill fish’s cavity with lemon slices.
Pour water into salt and mix. Press about half of the moistened salt in the bottom of a baking sheet. Place fish on top. Press remaining salt over entire fish to make a bright white mound. Bake 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and crack open salt crust with a wooden spoon, meat tenderizer or what have you. This is the most impressive part of the entire process though messy, too. I performed this step in the kitchen, made a huge mess, and delighted my company.

Place fish on serving platter. Drizzle with some olive oil and lemon juice from reserved half lemon. Garnish and enjoy.

I served this with a hearty lentil and caramelized onion rice as we were drinking red wine that night.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Wizzy September 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Seriously that’s a perfect 10 for wow factor right there. Can I come for dinner?
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Devaki @ weavethousandflavors September 15, 2012 at 7:05 am

I have always wanted to make salt crusted fish too and thanks to you Stevie, now I will! The lentil & caramelized rice (so much like lebanese mujhaddhara) is my absolute favorite and sounds like an excellent accompaniment.

What excellent hosts you and Hegui are and what privileged guests :)

chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
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Alaiyo Kiasi September 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm

This looks like a very interesting way to cook red snapper. I’m so curious about this technique, but I have high blood pressure, so I have to be careful. I appreciate seeing the technique, though.
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TasteofBeirut September 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm

This is a technique I had seen before and was curious about but salt is an ingredient I shy away from so I ‘d make it with a regular salt crust (with flour) just to see the effect, but it looks great!

Mary @ HowDoYouCook.com September 23, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Beautiful! I love to cook red snapper this way because the flavor is simply amazing. A great way to WOW your guests, too.
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Murasaki Shikibu October 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I just made this last week, myself. It’s a local specialty where I live and they sell salt especially for this dish. I put chopped lemon rinds and egg whites in my salt though. Your fish looks great!
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Heguiberto October 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Murasaki,
It came out very tasty. Simple to make. Surprisingly not as salty as I expected it to be. I’ve heard of using egg whites too. Will give it a try next time we make it again!
Cheers,
Heguiberto

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