28 March 2010

Whole Fish Baked in Chilli Salt

I remember seeing this method deployed by Jamie Oliver on one of his cooking series. At the time, all I could remember was that a vast vast amount of salt was used. With the fish buried in salt, I had wondered how the fish wouldn't come out too salty. I later realised it might have helped if I had asked my local fishmonger to leave the scales on. But if you push away the skin, the underlying meat isn't that salty at all. In fact, the fish meat turned out incredibly tasty and moist.

The chilli plant I was given a while ago, had finally produced enough chillies for harvest, so I was eager to test out the recipe for making some chilli salt (another thing I learnt from Jamie). Baking and hopefully infusing the fish with the chilli from the salt seemed to be a good idea at the time. Although I wasn't sure how much of a chilli kick I would get, so I only used 4 chillies. This gave it a slight hint of a chilli kick, the next time I try this again, I would probably add a couple more.

Whole Fish Baked in Chilli Salt
adapted from Jamie Oliver's cooking show
  • 1 Whole Snapper (about 600g)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 3 Sprigs Thyme
  • 3 Egg whites
  • Lemon wedges
  • Olive oil
For the Chilli Salt:
  • 1kg of Coarse Salt
  • 4 Fresh Chilli (I used small chinese chillies).
Making the Chilli Salt:
  1. Working in small batches, use a pestle mortar to grind the fresh chillies and the coarse salt together. The chilli gives the salt a pinkish tint and at the same time infuse the salt with that chilli kick. Using a sieve, pass the grounded salt through to catch the chilli seeds and repeat until all the salt has turned a pinkish colour.

To Bake the Fish:
  1. Preheat oven to 190C.
  2. Place chilli salt and egg whites in a bowl and combine. The mixture should have a consistency like damp sand.
  3. Spread a layer of salt mixture over the base of a oven baking tray. Place fish on top and top with remaining mixture, while sticking in the bay leaves and thyme.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove fish from oven and cool for about 5 minutes then, using a knife (with the help of a small hammer), break off the salt crust and discard.
  5. Scrape off the fish skin and remove the flesh from the bones. Serve with the lemon wedges and a drizzle of olive oil.

caking the fish with chilli salt.. :)


  1. What a great recipe. I have seen numerous recipes like this or chicken in clay but have never dared venture that far. I am glad you had success.

  2. Heheh, the fishy looks so snug under his salt blanket!

  3. Mark... I've seen the chicken in clay or dough, but never tried it out.. i think this is a lot easier than those ones though. :)

    Mademoiselle... It does, but that was one hard salt blanket! In the end I had to use a small hammer to chisel away at the salt which was more like hardened cement...!!


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