Ready : 50 mins [Prep : 20 mins † Cooking : 30 mins]
Serve : 4 with other dishes
Generic : Bake
Level : Easy
Idle : 30 mins Printable Recipe.
“Healthy Moist Tender and Succulent whole Fish”
The theory behind of salt-crust cooking is that the heat and moisture are trapped under a hermetic crust, forcing seasoning to permeate the food and not allowing them to escape, as can happen in broiling and sautéing. The cement- like enclosure of a salt crust creates an “A kiln” effect that keeps all the moisture in, thus producing a most succulent piece of meat as compared to other cooking methods. Moreover, people concerned with fat in their diet could benefit because the hot salt absorbs some fat from meat. The origin of this cooking method is highly debatable, even though; it has been linked to the Chinese. Here’s The Viand’s version of, “Salt Crusted Baked Tilapia“.
Most recipe call for the scales of the fish to be left on (it helps to protect and keep the fish moist and tender), but The VianD’s rationale on this, is really one’s preference. The different is really down to – “how flavorful U want the fish to be”. In this case, saltines (or other dried herbs flavor if U choose to add some dried herbs into the Salt). If the scales keeps the moisture in, they will also keep flavors from infusing, ya ?? Besides, doesn’t the Crust supposed to do the protecting ?? Anyway, here, The VianD has the fish scaled.., the fish monger will gutted and scaled for U.
- One whole Tilapia (or any Snapper or Sea Bass), gutted with all the outer fins scissored off. Slit the inner of the belly a little towards the tail, then press and flatten it out like a butterfly so that the fish can stand as shown in the image below.
To lightly flavor the Fish, simply rub the fish with a splash of Sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, Olive oil (or normal cooking oil is fine) and a dash of Black Pepper (optional).
Now, most recipe call for beaten Eggs-white to be added to the Salt (as a binding agent) to form a paste. Wow, what a waste !!! Here’s The VainD’s rationale for this – why not just add a little Flour and water to hold the Salt together and help adhere to the fish. Btw, if U lay the fish down flat on its side as most recipe suggests, U really do not need any binding agent because U can simply pile the Salt on the fish ! No ? But if U choose to sit the fish up, purely for presentation like what The VainD did here, yes, U do need the binding agent – else the Salt will hold up !! One different of not using Eggs-white is, the crust maybe a little harder to crack – that’s all !!
- A shit load of coarse salt…LoL (normal table fine salt will be too salty). Seriously, U really do need quite a bit to cover the whole fish. A small amount of Flour and water as binding agent.
- The normal assortment of fresh herbs to stuff into the fish belly, not only just to get rid of the fishiness but also for flavors.
Here, The Viand has got sliced Lemon, smashed Ginger, smashed Garlic, Lemongrass, red Chili, Scallion and Parsley (the stem are especially flavorful).
- Step 1 : Mix the Salt, Flour and water well to form a paste (kinda like wet sand). Wat is presented here is actually TOO WET !!!
Lay a layer of Aluminium foil of Baking paper on a tray, for easy cleaning after baking. Lay a layer of Salt, large enough surface area for the fish to sit on.
Stuff all the Side Ingredients into the Fish’s belly and place it on top, sitting up. Cover the Fish with Salt, pack tightly, making sure the fish is cover entirely.
- Step 2 : Pop it into a pre-heated Oven @ 220c for about 30 minutes. When done, let it rest for abt 10-mins b4 serving.
Serve it as it is and crack open the crust at the dining table. WoW.., what a visual and olfactory effect !!! LoL. Btw, the skin can easily be peel off by a fork after the Crust is removed.
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