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If you ever want something different for a big family meal at Christmas or Easter (or whenever), this is as dramatic a presentation as any turkey or standing rib roast. Encasing the fish in wet salt seals all the moisture in so it’s pretty hard to dry out the fish.

If you don’t have an oven big enough to hold the whole fish, you can cut off the tail and/or the head and wrap the ends of the fish in tin foil. Then when you roast the fish, put a large sheet pan under your roasting pan so if the wet salt bubbles over, you won’t get it all over the oven. For a bigger oven, you can put the fish, vegetables, and salt on a large sheet pan and then line the lower oven rack of the oven with tin foil to catch any spill-over.

Finally, when it’s all cooked, you crack open the salt crust. Do it right next to the sink. Spread out some newspapers. Put the roasting pan on the newspaper and then crack open the salt and toss it in the sink. You can run the water in the sink from time to time to dissolve the salt. Invite your guests to stand nearby while you de-mummify the fish and vegetables. Watching this happen never fails to delight and amaze folks.

All that salt doesn’t affect the flavor of the fish at all. It simply seals in all the moisture and cooks everything evenly.

salt-crusted fish © lunamarina /

Salt-Baked Big Fish and Vegetables with Fresh Salsa

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: About an hour

Yield: 8–10 servings


Salsa (see the following recipe)

8 carrots, trimmed and peeled

Five 3-pound boxes kosher salt

4 cups water

1 cleaned, unscaled 8-pound striped bass (or redfish, salmon, weakfish, or bluefish)

6 medium potatoes

6 medium sweet potatoes


  1. Wrap the carrots in foil to make a sealed bundle.
  2. Heat the oven to 500 degrees F (or 450 degrees F if that’s as high as your oven goes).
  3. Pour all the salt into a very large bowl or the sink. Add 4 cups water and toss the salt to dampen it. The consistency should be like spring snow, slightly wet and lightly clumping. If necessary, add more water.
  4. In a large roasting pan, tamp down a 1-inch layer of damp salt. Place the fish on top of the salt, diagonally in the pan. Arrange the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and foil-wrapped carrots snugly around the sides of the fish.
  5. Insert an ovenproof (not instant-read) meat thermometer in the thickest part of the fish and leave it there so that you can monitor the temperature of the fish.
  6. Add more damp salt to cover everything, making a thick layer over the fish and vegetables. Tamp the salt down just like when you bury someone in sand at the beach.
  7. Place a sheet pan in the lower third of the oven and then put the roasting pan on top of it. Bake until a thermometer reaches 140–145 degrees, about 55 minutes.
  8. Take the roasting pan from the oven and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Tap the salt crust with a hammer or mallet until it cracks. Discard the salt.
  9. Remove the carrots. Brush any remaining salt from the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and fish; then lift off the fish skin.
  10. To serve, use two large spoons to lift pieces of fish and transfer to plates. Put some carrot, potato, and sweet potato on each plate. Pour salsa (recipe follows) over the fish, and the vegetables too, if you like.



2 cups olive oil

1 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped garlic

1/2 cup fresh oregano

Zest of two lemons, diced or grated

Flaky salt to taste

Cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Cover and set aside until you are ready to serve.

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