Roasting fish that’s encased inside a salt crust is a centuries-old method of ensuring moist, ultra-flavorful flesh. The dramatic presentation is just a happy bonus. Nearly any fish benefits from this treatment, and feel free to adjust the herbs as desired. For an easy side, toss some cut potatoes in olive oil with salt and pepper, spread them on a roasting pan, and put the pan in at the same time as the fish.
– 1 whole fish, gutted and scaled
– 2 sprigs tarragon
– 6 egg whites
– 3 cups kosher salt
– 2 bay leaves, crumbled
– Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
– 1 lemon, cut into wedges
– Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the fish inside and out, and pat to dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the fish’s cavity, then tuck the tarragon sprigs in there.
2. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold the salt and the bay leaves into the egg whites to form a thick paste.
3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread about a third of the salt paste in the center of the parchment paper and lay the fish on the paste. With a rubber spatula, smear the paste all over the fish so that it’s completely encased. Place the pan in the oven.
4. Cook for about 25 minutes. By this time, the salt paste will have hardened into a thick crust. Allow the fish to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then crack the crust by knocking it with the flat side of a butter knife, and remove the crust in chunks. Scoop out the meat to serve, drizzling it with extra-virgin olive oil and giving it a squeeze or two of lemon.