This salt-baked red snapper uses an easy method of encasing a whole fish in a salt crust and then baking it to ensure moist, tender fish every time. Here’s how to cook it.
Salt-Baked Red Snapper
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 1 H
- Serves 4
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
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.
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.
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.
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. The fish should flake easily and be opaque throughout.
Take a nibble of the snapper and, if you’re so inclined, season it with salt and oil prior to serving. Originally published March 8, 2011.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
In a word: divine. Flaky and herb-infused, you barely need the salt and olive oil to finish this dish. Salt-baked fish is always impressive, and this particular rendition is no exception.
If your oven runs cool or you have a fish larger than the suggested 2 1/2 pounds, compensate accordingly by cooking an extra 3 to 5 minutes to be on the safe side (if it’s closer to 3 pounds, make it an extra 8 minutes or so). The fish is easy to present, but be careful when removing the top crust—if you didn’t make it thick enough, it may shatter. So practice—you’ll have many opportunities, since you’ll be making this dish again. And again.
Because this recipe calls for a whole fish and 3 pounds of salt, I can see how it would be intimidating. But it’s extremely easy and, quite possibly, foolproof. Once the fish is cooked, the salt lifts off fairly easily. And the fish tasted sweet and moist—succulent, I dare say.
Two caveats: the recipe says to season the fish with salt after it’s filleted. Mine didn’t need additional salt. Secondly, my fish was just under 2 1/2 pounds, but there’s no way it would have served four people. In our case, it served two adults and one child perfectly.