Sea bass in salt

Sea bass in salt

Spigola in crosta di sale

The Amalfi Coast
Helen Cathcart

This is the way Gianpaolo, the chef at Il Pirata in Praiano, cooks his sea bass. He told us that the flavour of this dish should be molto delicato (very delicate) and that it is ‘a perfect marriage of the freshest fish and local olive oil’. The salt crust traps the flavour inside. I have made this recipe many times using only salt and water but his method of adding egg white makes the crust much easier to cut away after cooking. For this dish a mixture of herbs such as thyme, bay, parsley and basil is suitable, so long as when chopped they amount to roughly 3 tablespoons.


Quantity Ingredient
1 sea bream weighing approximately 375 g, cleaned
3 large sprigs parsley
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
3 egg whites
400g coarse sea salt
a good single-estate extra-virgin olive oil, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Fill the cavity of the fish with 2 parsley sprigs, 1 thyme sprig and the bay leaf. Finely chop the rest of the parsley and thyme. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and hold their shape. Gently fold the herbs and salt into the egg whites without compromising the airiness of the beaten whites.
  2. Put 2 large spoonfuls of the mixture on the base of a baking dish lined with parchment, then lay the fish on top. Spoon the rest of the egg white mixture over until the fish until it is completely covered. Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes.
  3. To serve, crack open the crust and remove most of it. Loosen the skin around the sides of the fish with a knife. Put the end of the skin by the tail through the prongs of a fork and roll up to lift it away. Use a fish slice to put the fillets onto warmed plates and drizzle with olive oil.

A note on oven temperatures:

  • It has been assumed throughout that a fan-forced oven is being used. Please adjust your temperatures to 20°C higher if you are using a conventional oven.
The AmalfiCoast
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