Baked Whole Fish in a Salt Crust


 Lemon slices
Several sprigs of flat leaf parsley
1 sea bass or other suitable whole fish, about 1.5 pounds, cleaned and scaled *
4 cups sea salt or kosher salt
3 egg whites
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Tuck the lemon slices and parsley sprigs into the cavity of the fish.  

Combine the salt, egg whites, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl, mixing well until the salt has the consistency of damp sand.  (If the mixture feels too wet, add more salt; if too dry, stir in a bit more water).

Line a large rimmed baking sheet (or any other baking dish) with foil or parchment paper.  Using half of the damp salt, form a bed for the fish.  Place the fish on top, and pack the remaining salt over it to form a covering.

Bake the fish to an internal temperature of 135 - 140 degrees, about 25 minutes.  (You can just poke an instant read thermometer right through the salt, into the fish).  Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.

With the back of a wooden spoon, crack and remove the hard, pale brown crust of salt.  Remove the skin and fillet the fish.  Serve with your best olive oil and lemon wedges.

*The recipe above calls for a small whole fish, about 1.5 pounds.  I used a very large fish, a 5 pound red snapper. I simply tripled the amount of salt and doubled the cooking time. 

The Italian Dish