Spanish Salt Baked Fish

Whole fish baked in salt crust
Whole fish baked in salt crust

A local Andalucian TV station showed Jamie Oliver’s trip to Andalucia and in the end of the show (39:30) he teaches how to make perfect salt baked whole fish. The fish he used is golden perch and it’s very typical Andalucian cooking style for this particular fish, but you can also use sea bass, if you will. We have done this dish several times and there are some little differences in our style to Jamie’s cooking. But the basic idea is the same, of course, since it’s a local cooking method.

When done with cooking Jamie says: “This is the best fish I’ve ever tasted”. We can confirm this. This is the perfect method of cooking a white fish. It stays moist and the fish meat sucks a bit of that sea salt into it making it perfect in taste. You can add a small amount of herb aroma by stuffing the fishes with the herbs of your choice. We prefer stuffing them with parsley and salvia. Salvia is quite strong in taste, but suits perfectly with white fish. You can even fry some crispy salvia leaves as chips in butter and crack them on top of the fish. It works!

Ingredients for Spanish Aioli for 4 Servings

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
  • 1 egg yolk – yema
  • juice of half of lemon – zemo de medio de limón
  • 1 pinch of sea salt – sal marina
  • 2 dl (1 cup) of olive oil – aceite oliva

Crush the garlics in a mortel, add a pinch of salt and squeeze in the lemon juice. Add the egg yolk and begin mixing while adding a the oil slowly as a strand. The structure in the end should resemble mayonnaise. Check the taste and add salt, if needed. Place in the fridge to wait for the potatoes and fishes to be ready.

Ingredients for Oven Baked Potatoes for 4 Servings

  • 6 medium size potatoes – patatas
  • leek and/or onion and/or bell paprika – puerro y/o cebolla y/o pimiento
  • 1 whole garlic – ajo
  • a can of green olives – aceitunas
  • a splash of olive oil – aceite oliva
  • a pinch of sea salt – sal marina
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper – pimienta negra

Preheat the oven to 175 ºC (350 ºF).

Slice the potatoes into 5 cm (1/4″) slices lengthwise. Leave the skin on! Place then on an oven tray.

If you have some onions, leek or paprika, you can add them too, but it’s not necessary.

Cut the garlic in half. Yes, the whole garlic, as in the pictures below. Splash some olive oil on top of all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Toss them around so that everything is coated with olive oil.

Cook in 175 ºC (350 ºF) for 25 minutes. After placing the fish into the oven add olives and raise the temperature to 200 ºC (400 ºF) for another 25 minutes.

Ingredients for Salt Baked Fish for 4 Servings

  • 2 whole gutted perches or sea basses (total of ~1,2 kg, 2.5 lbs.) – doradas o lubinas
  • 2 kg (4.5 lbs) of coarse salt – sal grueasa
  • a few sprigs of parsley – ramitas de perjil
  • a few sprigs of salvia – ramitas de salvia

Mix about 2 dl (1 cup) of water with the salt in a bowl. Mix well so that the structure resembles wet snow. Make a layer of salt using half of the salt on an oven tray.

Stuff the fishes with parsley and salvia and place them on top of the sea bed. Cover the fishes with rest of the salt. Put the tray in the oven and cook for 25 minutes in 200 ºC (400 ºF).

When done, use a scoop or large spoon to crack the salt surface and remove the skin from one side of the fishes. Scoop the meat (without bones) to the plates and remove spine when done so you can access the other side of the fish.

¡Buen provecho!

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