Salt-Crusted Striped 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.
|2||lbs. whole striped bass, cleaned and gutted|
|1 1/2||cup coarse kosher salt|
|3||fresh bay leaves|
|few sprigs of thyme|
- 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!
- 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.