Salt-Crusted Striped Bass

Salt-Crusted Sea Bass

A trip to Chinatown is never complete without a visit to our favorite fish monger.  As we scan the catch of the day sprawled out on beds of crushed ice, my mind begins to sift through the menu possibilities for our upcoming week.  I know exactly what we need…


I love the controlled chaos at the fish market in Chinatown. Catching the attention of the fish monger is much like trying to get the attention of the bartender at a busy nightclub. You try to squeeze your way to the front, make eye contact and wait for their enigmatic system of random selection to grant you a small window of opportunity to make your demands. “Whole striped bass. The smallest one you have.” After all, it has to fit inside our toaster oven.

The method of cooking in a salt crust doesn’t result in a saltier fish as some people would think.  The salt actually creates a thick shell, locking in all the moisture and essentially steaming the fish.  Beneath the crusted white dome is a perfectly cooked and fragrant fish, which is exactly what we needed after our weekend in pork belly heaven.

Salt-Crusted Sea Bass


2 lbs. whole striped bass, cleaned and gutted
1 1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
2 Tbsp water
3 fresh bay leaves
few sprigs of thyme
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Insert thyme and 1 bay leaf inside the cavity of the fish.  Place the other 2 bay leaves on the main body of the fish (directly on the skin).  Place the fish in a shallow roasting pan and, using your hands, coat the fish with the salt mixture.  Leave the head and tail exposed.  Also, be careful not to get any salt in the cavity!
  2. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of your fish.  When the fish is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  To serve the fish, gently tap on the crust with a knife until it cracks.  Carefully remove all the salt crust and dispose.  Serve with a side of white jasmine rice and braised bok choy.

8 Responses to “Salt-Crusted Striped Bass”

  • Joy Says:

    Congrats on top 9!! I have never tried to cook fish in a salt crust and have always wondered how to do so — this looks amazing I am definitely trying this. You are so lucky to have a Chinatown that sells fresh fish in an open market, for some reason I always find ingredients taste so much better in an open market opposed to a regular old grocery store. Great post thanks for sharing :)

  • Dhale Says:

    Thanks Joy! You’ll love baking your fish in a salt-crust. And so easy to make too! Nothing beats an open air fish market experience. I’m so fortunate that Chinatown is only a few stops away from the subway!

  • Robert Bush Says:

    Sounds good, and I’ve been curious about this since dining a number of times at D’Acqua in Washington DC a number of times (it’s their specialty). I never tried it there, but I’d like to try it at home.
    You mention the “salt mixture”, but you don’t tell what the salt is mixed with. Egg white? Whatever.
    Any suggestions for other types of fish that this is a good way to cook? Thanks – RB

  • rebecca Says:

    oh love fish and China town is fab in NYC

  • Dhale Says:

    @ Robert Bush: The salt mixture is all salt with a little bit of water added to it (2 Tbsp). It makes it easier to build the crust around the fish when there’s a little bit of moisture. Other fish that would be great with a salt crust – red snapper, salmon, sea bass…. actually any whole fish would be great. The flavors are really clean and natural. Good luck and thanks so much for stopping by :)

  • Timeless Gourmet Says:

    I catch quite a few fish here in Newburyport, Stripped Bass among them……I’ve never done one in a salt crust, but I really must – this looks great!

  • Dhale Says:

    @ Rebecca: I think I’m headed to Chinatown again this weekend! I heard from around the way that there’s a place where you can find live shrimp! I’ll keep you posted on it. Thanks for visiting :)

  • Dhale Says:

    @ Timeless Gourmet: How awesome it must to be to catch your own fish! It doesn’t get any fresher than that. I love the salt-crust for its simplicity. Hope you like it too!

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