Salt-Crust Baked Whole Fish with Lemon and Thyme

Here’s an idea for your next fishing trip where you have (hopefully) caught a big, handsome fish- bake it in a salt-crust with fresh lemon and thyme!

The beauty of making a salt crust is that it will not only season the fish, but will seal in the moisture, keeping the flesh succulent and tender.  The belly is stuffed with fresh lemon, thyme and bay leaves to impart a wonderful aroma and to eliminate any fishiness. To add even more fragrance, the salt crust is mixed with fresh lemon zest, dried oregano and thyme!

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Simply served drizzled with some olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon and some black pepper, this makes one wonderful meal to be shared with family and friends! Just one word of warning: beware of the amazing flavour explosion when you break open the crust!

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Ingredients

For the fish:

  • 1 fresh whole fish, gutted
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf

For the salt-crust:

  • Salt, enough to cover the fish entirely
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 2-3 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-3 tsp dried thyme

For the dressing:

  • Juice of one lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Prepare the fish: Stuff the belly of the fish with the lemon slices, bay leaf and fresh thyme. Wrap the tail and head with some foil.
  3. Prepare the salt crust: Mix the lemon zest, dried thyme and oregano with the salt. Add enough water to the salt so that is begins to clump together.
  4. Cover a baking tray large enough to fit the fish with foil. Lay a layer of the salt mixture in the bottom of the tray. Place the fish on top and cover the fish with the rest of the salt mixture, patting down with your hands so that the body of the fish is covered entirely with the salt. Wrap the head and tail of the fish with foil to keep it from burning.
  5. Bake until the fish is cooked (times will vary depending on the size of the fish). Once done leave it to cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Prepare the dressing: Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, break open and discard the salt crust. Remove the skin of the fish as it may be too salty. Drizzle over the dressing and serve immediately!
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