I’m tempted to begin this post complaining about the challenges of facing a working Monday after a week of vacation. But, I’ll spare you my whine-fest and report that I had a pretty fantastic week away from the office – visiting friends and family, eating good seasonal food, celebrating the 4th of July, taking adventures and staying out of the heat. From a 105 degree hay-ride at the Homeland Creamery to a humid hour venture through a Butterfly Museum in Florida, my whole vacation was pretty much like hot yoga – or at least that’s my excuse for the very little exercise I had over vacation! Of course, we ate really well too.
It’s been years since I visited my family in Florida and was so nice to be near water during the warm months (although I did miss the fresh citrus at breakfast and cocktail hour). With fresh Florida seafood at our fingertips, I wanted to prepare something unique. Salt roasting whole fish is surprisingly simple, beautiful to prepare and serve and a delicious treat for dinner guests. While you maybe thinking that the fish will be extremely salty, very little of the salt gets to the meat of the fish. The salt and egg white mixture hardens – holding the moisture of the fish inside and lightly seasoning the fish.
We picked up two bright red Vermilion Snapper at the local fish market and had a fish scaling lesson in the backyard with my Dad. I’m not sure where you can pick these tips and tools locally – but I recommend seeking them out next time you’re on the coast or with a professional fisherman.
While this dish looks pretty intensive, it is surprisingly easy to prepare. Just make sure to have open-minded and adventurous dinner guests – ready and willing to dig in to a delicious whole fish.
Salt Roasted Vermilion Snapper
- 1 and 1/2 boxes, Kosher Salt, divided
- 10, dried bay leaves
- 1 lemon
- 2, egg whites
- 2 whole fresh cleaned and scaled, Vermilion Snapper (about 1.5 pounds each)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour a half-inch layer (or about half) of kosher salt on the bottom of a large cast iron skillet. Lay about 6 bay leaves on top of the salt. Lay the scaled Snapper on top of the salt and stuff with lemon slices, additional bay leaves and parsley. Layer more lemon slices and parsley on top of the fish.
In a large bowl, mix the remaining salt with two egg whites. Pile the mixture on top of the fish and smooth it over- totally enclosing the fish.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Using a knife or back of a spoon, crack open the salt covering on top of the fish and remove it gently. Try not to leave too much salt behind – and brush additional salt off the fish using a pastry brush.
Enjoy the fish and steer clear of the bones! This is intentionally a communal dish – so dig in!