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Fish baked in salt crust
Summer is at an end and the temperature is slowly cooling down. It is seafood time!
In the 18th century, due to the numerous cases of food poisoning during the summer months, Louis XV banned the sales of Oysters and Mussels during “les mois sans R”; “The months without R”, May, June, July and August.
With modern refrigeration technology, and strict Health and Safety regulations the risk is now very low.
However we don’t like to take risks, especially since we love seafood and had food poisoning too many times. So we avoid eating seafood during July and August, the hottest months of the year.
On the other hand, when it is very hot, fish is a lighter and fresher option than meat, so we make exceptions, but only buying from a fish monger we trust, not necessarily expensive ones.
My favourite place to buy fresh fish is Carrefour, unbeatable for variety, freshness and price. But if I just need to buy a fresh Sea Bream (Dorade in French, Orata in Italian) or Pulp and do not want to venture to the busy coast, I buy from the Fisherman’s van at the Baie des Anges.
It sells fresh fish caught daily by the fishermen of the Baie des Anges, and it comes in La Colle at the MarchU parking, twice a week Tuesday’s and Friday. It has a limited selection, however the fish are always fresh.
There are plenty of Dorades to be found in the sea off the Baie des Agnes, famous for the large pyramid buildings in Villeneuve Loubet. I once saw an Italian fisherman who caught 20 Dorades in 3 hours, just fishing from the beach.
When the fish is fresh I love to cook it in Salt, it retains the freshness of the sea, it is simple to do and presents well. Perfect combination to impress your guests at a dinner party!
This dish is served in the best seafood restaurants, and I have seen people paying a fortune for it, but in reality it is the simplest dish to prepare at home.
There is no need to add any seasoning as the flesh of the fish will absorb the right amount of salt to enhance its flavour while maintaining its moisture.
You need to buy at least 1.5 Kg of coarse Sea Salt (Gros Sel Marin) for 1 kg of fish, depending on the size of your casserole. It sounds a like lot, but each kilo of salt only costs between € 1 to € 2. No need to buy an expensive one. I recommend buying 2 to 3 bags per kilo of fish, better more than less. Any salt leftover can be used to salt the water for boiling pasta, or vegetables.
Preparing the dish: cover the bottom of the pan with 5 cm of salt, place the whole fish (which has been trimmed, scaled and gutted) on top of the salt. Cover the fish with another layer of salt, making sure it is all covered.
The fish needs to cook for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 220 C. Gently remove the salt from the fish, making sure the fish remains intact. Place it on a large plate to clean and serve. The fish will be perfectly seasoned.
I serve it with potato salad and green beans seasoned with olive oil, lemon, garlic and parsley.
For a dinner party it can be combined with a starter of shrimp salad.
Fish cooked in Salt
- 36 oz sea bream Whole fish trimmed, scaled and gutted
- 36 oz sea coarser salt
- Cover the bottom of a pan with 5 cm of salt, place the whole fish (which has been trimmed, scaled and gutted) on top of the salt.
- Cover the fish with another layer of salt, making sure it is all covered.
- Cook the fish for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 220 C.
- Gently remove the salt from the fish, making sure the fish remains intact.
- Place it on a large plate to clean and serve. The fish will be perfectly seasoned.