Whether adhering to strict guidelines or simply finding ways to incorporate it into Christmas dinner, the Sicilian tradition of the Feast of Seven Fishes is fun, bountiful, and for many Italian-Americans, it is a way to celebrate their heritage. From arancini stuffed with lobster, crab, or salted cod, to linguini coated in the briny, velvety ink of a cuttlefish served with sweet clams and bright citrus, we highly recommend including at least one seafood dish to your holiday menu.
One of our favorite showstoppers is whole fish baked to perfection in a dome of salt. As the salt and egg white mixture solidifies around the fish, it traps in moisture, resulting in delicate, melt in your mouth bites of fish. Lending a deliciously saline quality to the meat, cooking the fish whole with its skin intact keeps the meat from becoming too salty as it cooks. Branzino, red snapper, dorade, arctic char, or trout are some excellent options for this dish. The quantity of salt and egg whites will vary depending on the size of your fish. This recipe works for a 2 lb red snapper.
Serve with our parsley, preserved lemon, olive, and caper salsa.
Salt Baked Fish with Preserved Lemon Salsa
For the Preserved Lemon Salsa
▢ 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
▢ 1 shallot, minced
▢ 1 preserved lemon
▢ 1/4 cup Castelvetrano olives, chopped
▢ 2 tbsp Capers, chopped
▢ 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
▢ Pinch Sicilian Chili Flakes
▢ 4 tbsp Forte Olive Oil
For the Fish
▢ 1 2 lb whole red snapper, scaled, gutted and cleaned
▢ 3 lbs koser salt
▢ 2-3 egg whites
▢ 4 tbsp water
▢ 1 lemon, thinly sliced
▢ 1 sprig thyme
▢ 2 cloves garlic, smashed
▢ 2 tbsp butter (optional)
@bonafurtuna Quick, easy, and always perfection, nothing delivers like a salt baked while fish. Add this to your holiday menu, we promise you’ll thank us. #italy #sicily #italianfood #christmas ♬ NOTHING - Westover
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Start by making the salsa. Cut the preserved lemon into quarters lengthwise. Carefully remove the pith by sliding a sharp knife below the pulpy bit and the skin. The goal here is to retain the delicious brined skin, but not the pith or pulp. It will feel like a waste as the majority of the lemon is the center. Once you've removed this, thinly slice the skin and mince it.
- Add the parsley, shallot, preserved lemon skin, olives, capers, red wine vinegar, chili flakes and olive oil in a bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste, and set aside.
- Stuff the fish with butter, lemon slices, thyme and garlic.
- Place a layer of parchment paper over an inverted baking sheet.
- Combine the kosher salt with 1 egg white and 4 tbsp of water. Mix well. You want it to feel like wet sand in your hands, and for it to hold together if you squeeze it into a ball. If it’s too loose, you can always add another egg white or a few more tablespoons of water.
- Spread an even, ½ inch thick layer of the salt mixture onto the pan. It should be long enough and wide enough that there’s an inch of salt creating a border around the fish once you lay it down. Cover the whole fish with the rest of the salt, packing it in and creating a sealed dome around the fish. It’s ok if the fish tail hangs out, but make sure to pack the salt tightly around it.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until the salt browns. Remove from the oven, and let it rest for 10 minutes before cracking open the dome and carefully removing it.
- Serve with Preserved Lemon Salsa and potatoes.
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