Whole Fish in SaltClick to Play

Black Sea Bass Baked in a Salt Crust

Mary Ann Esposito

This recipe was tested with Black Sea Bass and Dorade Royale, which has the same shape as sea bass. I have also tested it with large trout which needs less salt crust and a few minutes less cooking time. The recipe for the crust makes a little extra - I could cut the salt back about a cup, but I think people will feel more comfortable with a little extra. For equipment you will need a mixing bowl, whisk, baking sheet pan or roasting pan, parchment paper or aluminum foil. (Created by guest chef Jasper White.)

Serves two to three


2 each fresh black sea bass, about 1 1/4 pounds (upto 1 1/2 )  - whole, bone-in, head on

To stuff the fish:
1/2 small leek, very thinly sliced and washed (youcan substitute onion)
1/2 lemon, very thinly sliced
1 thumb-size piece fresh ginger, peeled and verythinly sliced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper

Salt Crust:
10 egg whites, lightly beaten
8 cups Kosher salt
3/4 cup water (approximately)
1 black olive for the eyes

To serve:
Lemon wedges
Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
Italian parsley or other herbs to garnish the platter


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Using a pair of shears or a sharp knife, trim the fish of all fins. Also, check tosee that all the scales are removed.

Prepare the vegetables to place inside the cavity of the fish. Sprinkle fresh black pepper into the cavity and a little around the outside of the fish. Layer the ginger, lemon, leeks and sprigs of thyme loosely inside the fish. Do not over stuff it. This is for aromatic purposes only.

Ina mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and add the salt. Stir and add just enough water (about 3/4 cup) to make the salt mix soft enough to smooth out.

Linea baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper (double pieces) or aluminum foil. Place a layer of the salt mix, about 1/3 inch thick, in the shape of the fish only a little wider, on the paper. Place the fish on top and now cover the top and sides with the salt mix (1/3 inch thick). Make sure the entire fish is sealed - top, bottom & sides - so that it is hermetically sealed. Smooth the crust on top of the fish - you can wet your hands a little to help with this. Use a pairing knife to decorate the fish by making small semi-circles that resemble scales. Use a slice of olive to make the fish's eye. Refrigerate until ready to bake. (You can prepare this up to an hour before you bake it -longer than that may cause the fish to be overly salty.)

Bake for exactly 30 minutes. The crust will turn a nice golden brown. Present thewhole fish in its crust to your guests.

Cut around the circumference of the fish and remove the top crust in one piece.Lift the fish out of the bottom crust and place on a platter. Serve with fruity olive oil and lemon wedges.


This recipe is featured on show 1904 - Fish in Salt,and was developed by guest chef Jasper White.

item recipe is featured in Episode 1904 of Season 19.

Want More Recipes? See My Latest Book:

Buy Ciao Italia Family Classics by Mary Ann EspositoCiao Italia Family Classics

Mary Ann returns to her family's humble beginnings to bring us a treasure trove of more than 200 time-honored recipes.

Buy it now from Amazon for just $24.00

Buy It From Amazon

A Testimonial From Mario Batali:

This collection epitomizes the tradition and love that goes into all of Mary Ann Esposito's cooking. Like her award-winning TV series, this book will live on for years with all of those who cook her delicious recipes. My kids love everything Mary Ann cooks!"


Leave a comment

  1. Will try fish enrobed with salt's avatar

    Will try fish enrobed with salt

    | Permalink
    Dear MaryAnn,
    Love your eggplant (Nana's) recipe and also your great show. Thanks for all your tips.
    Happy New Year to you also. Reva Cohen, l/2 Italian!
  2. patty's avatar


    | Permalink
    This recipe rocked! Fish was so moist and delicious.

Leave a Comment