This is the first time I ever made a salt crust and let me tell you, it was a huge pain in the ass… but it turned out great! Baked red snapper was one of the first dishes I made when I began to discover my love for cooking, and so I chose a slightly more complicated recipe this time. I hope you like it!
1 (2-3 lb) whole red snapper, cleaned
1/3 of a lemon (for juicing)
1/3 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb fresh fennel, chopped
1/2 cup high quality olive oil, divided
3 egg whites
3/4 cup kosher salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Directly from Tyler Florence’s recipe: “When cooking with a whole fish, you must first be sure that the fish is gutted, your local fish market will do this for you. The skin should be scaled and the gills and fins removed. Leave on the head and the tail. Rinse the fish inside and out then pat dry.”
Pre-heat your oven to 350*F and line a large dish with foil (makes for easy clean-up!)
Optional step: rub a piece of clarified ramp butter all over the foil to help prevent the fish from sticking.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the fennel, onion, red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup olive oil, and lemon juice. Stuff the fish with 3/4 of the fennel mixture and then spread the remaining amount across the foil/pan to help prevent the fish from sticking to it. Transfer the fish to your pan and rub the skin with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil.
In a LARGE bowl, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks – do not get discouraged, this takes forever. I would recommend using a hand-held mixer to speed up the process or this can take an entire episode of the Daily Show. Once the egg whites are able to hold stiff peaks, slowly fold in the salt to make a paste. Smear this salt paste over the entire fish, try to make sure that you cannot see any skin through the mixture. Roast the fish in the oven for about 40 minutes (I did 32 minutes for a 2.5 lb fish and it still wasn’t completely done, so I’d go a little longer next time).
The egg white/salt mixture will form a hard shell-like crust. Remove this crust prior to eating.
Note: Red Snapper has many small bones so please be careful when eating. This is the primary reason this recipe is not categorized as “kid-friendly”.