Salt-Baked Trout: International Incident Party

For November’s International Incident Party, our fabulous host Jeroxie: Addictive and Consuming has challenged up yet again, but this time with Salt.  For those of you who are familiar with her site, salt makes a regular appearance on her blog.  She even held a giveaway for a fantastic book all about salt aptly named The Salt Book.I was a little stumped about what do do for this event.  My mind veered toward salt preserving and curing, but I am still in my infancy with those procedures.  I had already tackled preserved lemons in a previous post and my charcuterie skills leave much to be desired. Then suddenly the idea of fish baked in salt popped into my head.  I found a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, but it called for more kosher salt than I had on hand and used fish that are unavailable in Bulgaria or atleast not available in the quality and the freshness required. I decided on trout baked in a mixture of sea salt and kosher salt… but here is the thing…  I am extremely fish-squimish!

It started back when I was a little girl.  We used to spend our summers on a lake in Pennsylvania, about an hour and a half from our house in Brooklyn.  Being city kids, my brother and I liked to fish for “sunnies” or bluegills because they were ridiculously easy to catch.  Our method was this, toss some bits of white bread in the water and then they just jump onto your hook.  Literally that easy.  Sometimes we could catch over 50 a day, but then toss them back when we were done.  Growing up, my family didn’t eat fish, unless it was frozen and in stick form and even still it was rare.  I was once told that part of being a fisher person is taking your own fish off the hook, which I have never done… to this day.  My only attempt was wearing a baseball glove, which probably killed the fish in the long run.  As a budding chef, I know the time will come, when I have to touch and gut a fish.  Yes, I have touched fish, but it was a salmon filet, which didn’t require me to touch the whole fish.  I don’t know why I am so excited to carve up a cattle carcass, but horrified at the thought of touching a dead fish.

Back to the party, I purchased 3 whole trouts, which had been gutted already (phew!) that I need to clean a bit then bury in salt.  I was literally talking to myself and giving myself a pep talk… “you can do this!” I  finally bit the bullet and took the fish into my hand.

I don’t know if it was the fact that the fishes were intact including head that freaks me, but I felt like it would start wriggling at any moment or its scales would poke into my hand…  One of the fishes jaw started flapping as I ran it under the water and I felt a little shiver down my spine.
Salt-Baked Trout adapted from Martha Stewart Cooking School
3 whole trout – 800 – 900g (1.5 – 2lbs), gutted and cleaned
5 cups (1.5kg/lb) Sea Salt
5 egg whites
3/4 cup water
1 lemon
a bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
a bunch of fresh parsley sprigs

Pre-heat the oven to 450F (235C)
Rinse the fish under running water till clean and no blood remains.
Whisk together the egg whites and water till frothy.  Add the salt and combine, it should feel like coarse wet sand.
Pour 1/3rd of of the salt mixture on the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Layer the 1/4 the lemons and herbs on top of the salt mixture. Stuff the remaining lemons and herbs equally inside the trout.
Cover the fishes in the remaining salt mixture, then bake for 30 – 35 minutes.  When finished, let rest for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the salt crust.
The finished fish was moist and had a delicate lemony herb flavor.  I would probably make this dish again, but use kosher salt, which the recipe originally called for.  My only hesitation is the fact that there is a lot of wasted salt.  I felt a tad guilty about throwing it all away. 
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Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria

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