13 Apr2007

salt1

This is an impressive, delicious and very easy dish to make. All of the ingredients are readily available at most seaside towns or good seafood markets in major cities and salt2yet so few people seem to have ever attempted the recipe. If you happen to have access to a reef fresh lapu-lapu (grouper) or maya-maya (snapper), simply de-gut it and scale it then rinse and dry it with paper towels. Prepare a stuffing for the cleaned out stomach cavity if you like (stuffing is not necessary). I prepared a quick sauté of thinly sliced fennel, onions, tomatoes and Italian parsley. Stuff the fish (here I used two small fish totalling 1 kilo in weight; these were a bit small, try to get a 1 to 1.5 kilo single fish) and prepare a salt crust. For a 1 to 1.5 kilo fish, take about 2.5 kilos of good rock salt and place it in a large bowl…

salt4

In another small bowl, beat about 4-5 egg whites until a bit frothy and mix the egg whites into the salt until it is moistened. Some folks add flour to dry out the crust but salt3I don’t recommend it as you risk this floury coating on the fish as is apparent on the photos here (I used flour since the salt looked too damp). Then completely encase the fish in the salt/egg white mixture and make sure no part of the fish is exposed. Stick it in a 450 degree oven for 35-45 minutes depending on size. Our oven decided to have mechanical problems minutes before I prepared this dish so I had no choice but to try and do this on a charcoal grill! With a cover on the grill, it actually turned out pretty well but I would have preferred the regulated heat of an oven. Once it is done, you may need a small mallet to crack open the salt and carefully peel away the salt crust. Next, tear the fish skin and pull it back and enjoy the meat underneath. Oddly, it is not salty at all. First timers to this dish always look at me skeptically, and have serious doubts that the final product will be edible…but the salt crust serves to seal in all of the flavor and the fish steams in its own juices. The result is usually a flavorful, juicy and tasty fish. Try it and see for yourself!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. ryan says:

    Where can you buy fennel and Italian parsley in Manila?

    Apr 13, 2007 | 12:09 pm

     
  2. Maria Clara says:

    Looks like all the flavor and juices were encased/trapped in the salt eggwhite crust formation like pouring concrete on the ground. Yes, indeed all the flavors and juices were captured in. Do you really need a mallet to break the salt crust or just piercing it with a knife to start breaking it off will do the work? It has to be whole fish or fillet will work? I will still need my soy kalamansi dipping sauce. I learn something new everyday through your blog. Thanks a million.

    Apr 13, 2007 | 12:13 pm

     
  3. flip4ever says:

    Hi MM,
    Thanks for explaining the salt mixture to create the crust. Guess that’s another use for egg whites left from egg yolk based desserts. I’ve seen them do these on the old Iron Chef (the Japanese version dubbed in English for the TV Food Networkh here in the US)…but they just showed the chefs doing it but never explained how to do it — or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Thanks again.

    Apr 13, 2007 | 12:38 pm

     
  4. wil-b cariaga says:

    the first time i made this dish i was hesitant and thinking it might make the fish extremely salty . . . but to my surprise it is not and the meat is tender and not overcooked or chewy. . . ypu can also wrap the fish with blanch “pehcay” leaves to keep it moist. . .

    Apr 13, 2007 | 12:56 pm

     
  5. Arlene says:

    MM and wil-B are correct.
    The fish will not taste salty at all.
    To those who have been to Bangkok and saw the food stalls lining up the side streets at night, you’d have seen the inihaw na catfish and big tilapia, smothered with rock salt (may lemongrass stuffing inside). Not salty, cooked just right (moist but fully cooked).
    (Quite unrelated – we bought tom yum goong also from one of the stalls, the Thai lady cooked that batch just for us. It was the bestest tom yum goong we’ve ever had.)

    Apr 13, 2007 | 4:24 pm

     
  6. linda says:

    MM,just recently saw a chef on T.V. and his recipe for the salt crust seem to have worked successfully and here’s his recipe:-

    preheat oven to 220c

    2.5kg whole snapper
    4kg rock salt
    500g plain flour (all purpose)
    200ml water

    method- mix salt,flour and water until salt mix is at a paste consistency.

    place stuffed (whatever you filling you desire) snapper on large baking tray and cover fish completely with salt mixture.

    bake in oven approx 45-50 minutes.
    remove from oven and lift crust off fish.
    serve with salad.

    Apr 13, 2007 | 8:39 pm

     
  7. erleen says:

    hello MM…

    are those sliced lemons in your stuffing?

    looks good!

    Apr 13, 2007 | 9:23 pm

     
  8. Marketman says:

    erleen, yes, oops, I forgot to type in a thinly sliced lemon as well…

    Apr 13, 2007 | 9:52 pm

     
  9. millet says:

    MM, did you encase the whole fish (over and under), or just the part that was exposed?

    Apr 13, 2007 | 10:52 pm

     
  10. Marketman says:

    millet, over and under, it was fully encased. If in doubt, make more salt mixture than you think to make sure you fully cover the fish…

    Apr 13, 2007 | 11:00 pm

     
  11. corrine says:

    Yes! Another way to cook fish. I am running out of ideas.This is a healthy yet flavorful way to cook fish.

    Apr 14, 2007 | 10:32 am

     
  12. corrine says:

    I have a question. Some months ago, I bought sea salt in Salcedo Market that cost me P400.00 for maybe 1/2kilo. The stall owner said it’s from Zambales and it was “cooked” in a huge pan to remove whatever bad chemical it has. It’s clean and not very salty which I like compared to the ones I buy from the supermarket. However, since it’s expensive would the regular rock salt do? Is that also sea salt?

    Apr 14, 2007 | 10:36 am

     
  13. Marketman says:

    corrine, YES, regular rock salt will work. I bought mine at PHP10 a kilo in nasugbu. Look for the type with smaller or finer grains, not the really big grains. Do not use refined or iodized table salt. And I would not use fancy processed salts at PHP800 a kilo…

    Apr 14, 2007 | 10:47 am

     
  14. Teddycapz says:

    Mr. Marketman, thanks for another novel way to cook and present a fish fish. Can’t wait to see the reactions of my dinner guests once I bring out the fish with sea salt crust and matching mini mallet to boot.
    Question – will this crust work with other meats as well like chicken (an innovation on the Pinaupong Manok concept)? Maybe I can make use of wil-b cariaga’s tip above of wrapping the meat with blanched pechay leaves to keep the crust’s saltiness at bay, what do you think?
    At any rate, thanks for your highly informative and interesting posts. Your PBA Bloggers’ Choice Award is indeed richly deserved – coming from your peers at that!

    Apr 14, 2007 | 12:27 pm

     
  15. Marketman says:

    Teddy, I have never heard of a salt-encrusted chicken, but the Chinese beggar’s chicken is done in CLAY, but first wrapped in lotus leaves. It tastes good but I have never made one at home…

    Apr 14, 2007 | 2:24 pm

     
  16. ryan says:

    Yup, it’s a great dish! I marinade mine in gin and cracked black pepper first before encrusting it in salt. I have yet to try the one with artichoke and parsley stuffing.

    Apr 14, 2007 | 2:54 pm

     
  17. krizteene says:

    MM, how long did you have to grill the fish? I just started to have an interest in cooking (thanks to you!) and I’m planning to but a good oven once I have enough money. For now, I have to use the charcoal grill, too. By the way, what brand and how much can you recommend for a sturdy oven?

    Apr 16, 2007 | 1:35 pm

     
  18. Marketman says:

    krizteene, about 35 minutes on a hot grill. But the grill must have a cover to approximate the heat all around the fish, as in an oven. I use a large La Germania oven in the city which seems to work okay, but considering how much I use it, my first one died after only 5 years…

    Apr 16, 2007 | 2:07 pm

     
 

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