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Baking in salt

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
For the first time this week I cooked some fish by baking it in sea salt. I used Grey Mullet. The taste was excellent.

Can anyone tell me why this is such a good way to cook fish and can you cook any type of fish in this manner?

Are there any other points I should be aware of in using this method?
David
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post #2 of 14
The process of baking fish, and other food items, in salt appears in both French and Chinese cooking. The process arrose when people wanted the cooking effect of baking without having an oven. Salt is an excellent method of heat transfer. It transfers the heat from the bottom of the pan all around the food item being cooked.

It sounds like you covered your fish with salt and then put it in the oven. Traditionally, the fish was covered with salt in a pot and then placed over the fire. I've also cooked chicken and ducks in a pot covered with salt on top of a burner. Surprisingly, as you found out, the food is not salty. In fact, the salt seals the food so the steam cannot escape. Food cooked in salt is usually very moist and succulent. Some cooks wrap the food in muslin or paper, but I haven't really found it necesary.

The hard part about this type of cooking is knowing when the food is properly cooked. I've found that a couple, long termalcouple type probe works good for determining the temperature of the food.

BTW, if you cook whole fish with this method and fill the cavity with herbs or other arromatics, these will flavor the fish while it cooks.
post #3 of 14
I always cook fish that way!

I love to add pine leaves in my salt paste. It gives an excellent flavour to the fish.

I have even baked dessert in salt.

Apples in dough. They were excellent!

My problem is that it is difficult to present it on the dinner table, although I did that with the dessert.
Very impressive!


Zorba

Chef
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post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
I did stuff my cavity with dried Tarragon and Fennel Seed which added to the flavour.

There is no doubt that I will use this method again.

I used 1k of sea salt which I bough from my local Supermarket (it was the Saxo brand) and I had to buy too 500g packs at £1.65 making a total of £3.30 which must be around $5.00. I have since done some research locally and a small back street shop can supply 1k at £0.90 that is approximately 63% cheaper which makes the whole operation more viable as the salt had cost me almost a much as the fish!

The same shop also supplies herbs at about one-fifth the orice of main supermarkets.

I would think that is very much the same situation in many Western countries where we pay for convenience.
David
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post #5 of 14
Can you just get plain old coarse salt -- what is available in the US as "kosher salt"? Restaurants I've worked in used that, and it really is quite inexpensive. There's not much point in using fancy sea salt, since the salt works more as a sealant than as a flavoring. But, yes, it is fantastic to do a fish that way.
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
I don't recall seeing Kosher salt in the UK although I must admit I have not been looking for it.

I had gained the impression from a lot of correspondence on recipes with the States that kosher and Sea salt were much the same.

Why is it called Kosher salt - I would have thought all salt would be kosher?
David
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post #7 of 14
The "kosher" salt that is available in California is generally mined salt that is sold as flakes. My understanding is that the name comes from the fact that it can be used for "koshering", i.e., salting of meat for preservation or tenderizing.

For salt baking, coase salt is usually less expensive because it takes about 12% less, by weight, to fill the same volume. Fine salt will give better heat transfer because of the tighter packing (less air), but I'm not sure if that is significant in this application.

If you go to someone that supplies resaurants, salt can be very inexpensive. I pay about $1.50 for 1 kg of coarse sea salt from France. (Even less per pound if I buy a 25 kg tub.)

Choosing a pot that holds the food relatively tightly helps reduce the amont of salt and increas the efficiency, too.
post #8 of 14

Question

My question may be silly but bare with me because I am not a pro.
Don't you think that fine salt will affect the taste?

The fish will be very salty afterwards.
I always thinking that using coarse salt it's easier to work with.
I have never even thought of using fine salt.

You use flour with salt I presume...
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post #9 of 14

answer

Zorba: As I said earlier, the salt becomes a crust that seals the food so that it cooks in its own steam. The food does not become salty, except maybe right on the surface. If you are concerned about the surface, you can wrap the food in a layer of muslin or paper before immersing it in the salt.

Fine salt produces better heat transfer, but coarse salt works fine and is usually less expensive. The salt is used plain -- nothing is added to it. If I know that I will be cooking again in the same manner a few days later, I sieve the salt to remove the pieces that have come in contac with the juices and save the remainder for reuse. The salt really doesn't go bad.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have used 1 kilo of salt and have mixed it with a mixture of 1 egg and a tabelspoon full of water.

This has helped to make the mixture a bit tacky which means I can build it up around the fish and therefore not use so much. The trouble is I have to throw it all away afterwards. The plus side is that the top forms a hard crust and will just lift off.

I did rainbow trout tonight (farmed fish) with their cavities stuffed with fresh Tarragon. I have cooked these fish many times over the last 30 years but this is the best they have ever tasted. Served with celery braised in chicken stock and some of the liquor poured on the plate - you need to have tasted it to know how good it was.

And to follow . . . .

Jamie Oliver's (The Naked Chef) Chocolate Pot. (Pot au Chocolat?)

I am posting the recipe for this fabulously decadent dessert on Hub-UK tomorrow night but will post it here tonight - this is the wrong forum so I will go and do it eslewhere.
David
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David
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post #11 of 14
:chef:

Hi guys!
Here i send one recipe of baked sea bass in salt crust:
1 fresh water bass weighing 3 k
olive oil
3 small bunches of herbs
1 lemon
1/2 leek

For the crust salt:
3k table salt
3k coarse salt
6 beaten eggs whites
1/4 liter water
Beat egg whites,add salts and water.Blend well

gut the bass wiyhout cutting it.Wash and do not scale,place herbs bunches,lemon halves and leek inside fish.
using half of salt form base about 1 1/4cm. thick and place bass on top.Brush whith olive oil and cover with remainingsalt.Etch scales and gills.Bake in preheated 180° oven for about 2 hours.
serve with a fresh mediterranean sauce .
Hope you like this fish,
Es para chuparse los dedos!!
K.I.T.
Hasta la vista!!
post #12 of 14
Thank you for your advices.

I will try the paste with egg tonight!

I wait for my sons to come home because we cook the three of us!
I will post just for your records the desert I have baked in salt!

:chef:
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post #13 of 14

Not quite seafood

Here's a recipe that not seafood but definitely part of salt roasting. It's a Chinese recipe from the Hakka enthnic group in Southern China.

Salt Roast Chicken

1-20 to 24 ounce chicken
salt for seasonning the chicken
3 pounds coarse salt

1. Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Salt and set aside for a couple of hours.
2. Cover the chicken with a layer of cheesecloth so that none of the skin is exposed.
3. Put coarse salt in a large, heavy-bottom pot and heat, covered, over a high flame, for 20 to 30 minutes. Bury the chicken in the salt so there is salt between the chicken and the pan. Cook over medium heat for 50 to 60 minutes.
4. Remove from cheesecloth. Chop into bite-size pieces and arrange on a plate for serving.
post #14 of 14
Well i have used the salt method for fish a lot .In Malta sea salt is enexpensive as all the island is surrounded by sea.WE also bake potatoes in the same method.
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