Ocean trout in a salt crust

Ocean trout in a salt crust

Modern Italian Food
Earl Carter

In the endless quest for something different, many restaurants serve food that has been baked in a salt crust. I used to think that this was a kind of ‘show off’ practice, until I discovered that it’s actually a very good method of cooking uniformly and evenly. A big fish, for instance, will cook evenly and keep very moist if baked in a salt crust. I cannot get the same result by poaching the fish in liquid.

Whole salmon or ocean trout are the best fish to use with this method as they are naturally oily and moist. The salt seems to trap the moisture within the flesh – provided it is not overcooked.

Choose a fish weighing around 2 kg that will fit easily into a normal domestic oven. This will feed several people and any leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge and are lovely in salads or sandwiches.

Mayonnaise is the best condiment to serve with this fish and it is even better if you add a few salmon eggs or a little finely chopped garlic to the basic recipe. Do not use extra-virgin olive oil for this mayonnaise – it is far too strongly flavoured.


Quantity Ingredient
10 egg whites
2kg fine cooking salt
150g cornflour
1 x 2kg ocean trout
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley or a similar herb


Quantity Ingredient
5 egg yolks
500ml extra-light olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons lemon juice, or more to taste
5 teaspoons salmon eggs, (optional)
1/2 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped, (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the salt and flour, without overworking, until you obtain a mixture with a consistency a little like snow. Spread a third of this mixture on a baking tray, to a depth of about 1 cm. Place the fish on top and stuff the herbs into the fish cavity. Cover evenly with the remaining mixture. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to rest for a further 25 minutes.
  3. Use a sharp knife to remove the crust, taking care not to damage the fish within. It should be perfectly cooked to pink. Do not worry if it is slightly undercooked close to the bone. Set that section aside and return it to the oven for a few more minutes.
  4. To make the mayonnaise, beat the eggs yolks together in a largish bowl and very gradually begin adding the oil bit by bit, until the mixture starts to emulsify. As the mixture thickens, add the salt and lemon juice. Beat in all the remaining oil (it could probably take even more) or until the mayonnaise reaches your desired consistency. Stir in the salmon eggs and garlic, if desired.
  5. If the mayonnaise separates, start again with 2 fresh egg yolks, beating in the split mayonnaise bit by bit. Finally, add a little extra oil to bind it together, as you will now have used a total of 7 yolks.
  6. This dish is best served with a medley of grilled vegetables or some simple steamed potatoes and vegetables. If grilling, cut zucchini, eggplant and capsicum into manageable strips, brush with olive oil and grill, turning constantly, until golden brown.
  7. Alternatively, place the vegetable strips on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush with olive oil and bake in a preheated 200°C oven for 20–25 minutes, or until cooked. Prepare each vegetable separately as they each need a different cooking time.
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