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October 1st, 2008

Salt-Baked Whole Red Snapper with Quick Pumpkin Purée

This recipe goes with my Washington Post piece on baking in a salt crust.

Salt-Baked Whole Red Snapper

(2 to 4 servings)

Roasting an entire fish in a salt crust ensures it remains moist. Serve with a spoonful of rich pumpkin puree as a contrast to the lean but flavorful fish.

2- to 4-pound whole red snapper, cleaned and gutted but with head, tail and scales intact (may substitute sea bream, grouper, rockfish or another non-oily white fish)
3 pounds coarse sea or kosher salt
2 large egg whites
Quick Pumpkin Puree (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have ready an ovenproof baking dish large enough to accommodate the entire fish (it may be necessary to trim the tail from the fish).

Carefully rinse the fish under plenty of cool running water. Pat it dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl using your hands, mix together the salt and egg whites until thoroughly combined and the salt feels completely dampened.

Spread about 1/3 of the salt in the baking dish. (You should have a layer about 1/2 inch thick.) Pat it down into an even layer. Place the fish on top of the salt and cover it evenly and completely with the remaining salt, patting the salt firmly onto the fish in an even layer about 1/2 inch thick, so the outline of the fish is recognizable. Be sure the entire fish is thoroughly and evenly covered.

Bake the fish until the salt forms a hard, lightly browned shell. Figure about 15 minutes per pound.

Remove the dish from the oven and bring it to the table with the fish still encased in salt. Bring a large bowl for the salt crust. Using a hammer or wooden spoon, carefully break the shell open by tapping gently. Using your fingers, pull off the larger chunks of salt and discard. Using a pastry brush, brush away any remaining salt. Using a spatula and a knife, carefully lift off the top side of the fish and transfer it to a platter. (If desired, the skin can be removed, using a sharp knife.) Then remove the backbone and discard. Carefully transfer the bottom side of the fish to the platter. Cut into portions and serve immediately with the Quick Pumpkin Puree on the side.

Per serving (fish only, based on 4): 249 calories, 49 gm protein, trace carbohydrates, 5 gm fat, 84 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 220 mg sodium, 0 gm dietary fiber

Quick Pumpkin Purée

(4 servings)

Although this pumpkin puree is intended as a rich-tasting garnish for fish, it is so simple yet delicious that you may wish to double the recipe and serve it as a side dish.

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound pumpkin, acorn squash or butternut squash, seeds and peel removed, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon heavy (whipping) cream (optional)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the pumpkin, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin just begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the water, cover and simmer gently until the pumpkin is tender, about 20 minutes. (May need to reduce the heat to medium-low.) Remove from the heat; set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, add the cream and puree again. Serve warm.

Per serving: 42 calories, 1 gm protein, 4 gm carbohydrates, 3 gm fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 71 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Posted by jeffkoehler in  recipes  |  

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