Called lubina a la sal, or salt-baked red snapper, there’s no better or simpler technique for cooking fish than this. The snapper baked inside the salt shell is soft and moist, with no hint of saltiness, in spite of what you might expect. You normally see this dish in restaurants, but it’s easy to replicate at home. After you make this dish a few times, you’ll discover the right combination of temperature, cooking time, and the weight of the fish to give you a perfectly cooked fish.–José Andres
Salt-Baked Red Snapper Recipe
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour | Serves 2 to 4
- 3 pounds coarse sea salt, plus more for serving
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 4 bay leaves
- 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 whole (approximately 2 1/2 pounds) red snapper, gutted but not scaled
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish, if desired
- 1. To make the salt-baked red snapper, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) . Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
- 2. In a large bowl, toss the salt with the water, stirring until the salt is slightly damp. Coarsely chop 2 bay leaves, 3 rosemary sprigs, and 5 thyme sprigs. Add the aromatics to the salt and mix well.
- 3. Spread half of the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the snapper on the salt. Tuck the remaining herbs in the cavity of the fish and then cover the fish completely with the remaining salt mixture, packing it firmly around the fish.
- 4. Bake the snapper for 30 minutes. (If your fish is larger than 2 1/2 pounds, increase the oven time approximately 5 minutes or so per each extra pound.) Let the snapper rest for 5 minutes.
- 5. To fillet the fish, using a fork and spoon, crack open the salt crust along the side. The upper half of the salt, now a hard shell, should lift off easily. (Although truth be told, it may crumble into pieces.) With the help of a fork, gently peel away the snapper’s skin and discard. Using a knife, cut just below the head of the snapper through to the bone. Then turn the knife at an angle and slice lengthwise along the spine. Carefully lift the fish fillet off the bone in a single piece, if you can, and transfer it to a platter. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side. Or you could instead simply transfer the entire baking sheet to the table and allow everyone to have at the fish with their forks.
- 6. Take a nibble of the snapper and, if you’re so inclined, season it with salt and olive oil prior to serving.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
- Snapper with a Spicy Tomato, Citrus and Herb Sauce from Inspired Taste
- Sea Salt Baked Lapu-Lapu from Market Manila
- Salt-Baked Wild Salmon with Tomato Aïoli and Potatoes from Leite's Culinaria
- Grilled Snapper with a Mango, Shrimp, and Chile Salsa from Leite's Culinaria
Salt-Baked Red Snapper Recipe © 2008 José Andres. Photo © 2008 Thomas Schauer. All rights reserved.