I had the pleasure just a few short weeks ago of doing a cooking demo at the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show with Sea Change executive chef Jamie Malone. Since the show, Malone was named to Food & Wine Magazine's list of Best New Chefs 2013! Very exciting for her, and for Minneapolis. If you're waiting for a show at the Guthrie to enjoy a meal at Sea Change, you're so missing out. Very soon, when spring arrives, make your way over to their stunning patio, overlooking the Stone Arch Bridge, and feast upon oysters and perfectly cooked, sustainable fish, washed down with beautiful wine. A night to remember, for sure.
And for a night at home in front of a roaring fire, because that's just where we're still at, make this simple, elegant fish. I hadn't baked fish in a salt crust before doing the demo with Malone, but I sure will now. First of all, it's really fun. The crust is just egg whites and kosher salt, mixed until it feels like wet sand.
It takes just a couple of minutes to pat it around the fish - and draw on a smiley face, per Malone's suggestion - which can be done ahead by a few hours if you like. After a brief bake, crack open the crust (very impressive) to reveal moist, silky fish, not salty at all but perfectly seasoned, ready to eat alongside spring vegetables with a drizzle of best olive oil. You can't beat if for elegance and simplicity.
I made the version in the picture with whole snapper because I hadn't called ahead for striped bass. After having both (the striped bass at the Home & Garden Show with Malone vs. the snapper I made) call Coastal Seafoods ahead for the striped bass (they can order it but don't stock it); it's meatier flesh is a perfect fit for baking inside the crust.
Chef Jamie Malone's recipe for Whole Fish Baked in a Salt Crust with Fennel & Olives at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.