Cooking a whole fish has always intimidated me, so you can trust that this recipe is level 10 impressive but level 1 easy (I call it fool proof for a reason!). Salt-Baked Branzino sounds like something you’d see on a high-end restaurant menu, but it’s almost ridiculous how simple it is to make at home. The two-ingredient salt layer insulates AND flavors the fish from the outside while fresh lemon slices and herbs delicately flavor it from the inside. The result is a melt-in-your-mouth tender bite that bakes up just 15 minutes. Serve it with a quick salad and a starch – I love pee wee potatoes! – and impress your guests by cracking the salt shell open right at the table.
The salt layer insulates the food you are cooking, which means the food cooks more slowly and evenly. This makes salt-baking an ideal cooking method for foods that are easily overcooked, like fish!
Although you may think cooking a fish in a mound of salt would result in an over-salted fish, it is actually perfectly seasoned, once you remove the skin, all through the process of osmosis!
3. Moisture Retention
The salt traps moisture within the food you are baking so that it cooks in its own juices, retaining more of it’s delicious flavor. Make sure you use non-iodized salt!
Foolproof Salt-Baked Branzino
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- 2 ½ cups kosher salt
- ½ cup egg whites about 3-4 egg whites
- 1 1 1/2 pound Branzino, fins trimmed and gutted
- 1 lemon sliced
- 6 sprigs thyme
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine salt and egg whites. Mix until the texture is that of wet sand. Set aside.
- Place fish on lined baking sheet and stuff inside cavity with lemon, thyme and black pepper. Then, cover completely with salt mixture, packing it around the entire fish, ensuring it is fully covered. Bake for 15 minutes, or until salt is hard when tapped and the edges just begin to turn lightly golden brown.
- Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Then, gently crack salt to reveal the full fish. Brush away any excess salt and remove fish skin. Serve fillets with salad and roasted potatoes, if desired.