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 yet 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 sautÃ© 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 bowlâ€¦
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 I donâ€™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 edibleâ€¦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!