Fish In A Salt Dome

The late Chef Jamie Shannon cooked this for a dinner I had at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans in 1992. It was one of the first dinners served at the restaurant’s now-famous Chef’s Table. The fish was as delicious as it was dramatic. The whole fish was on a pan covered with a pile of salt in which it had been baked. The salt formed a shell that had to be broken. Amazingly, it was not salty at all–just full of elemental fish flavor. I recommend drum, redfish, red snapper, small grouper, Spanish mackerel, or other nice fatty fish.

  • 1 whole Gulf fish, 2 to 4 pounds, dressed
  • 2 boxes kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

1. The best pan to use for this is an oval pan about 18 inches long by 12 inches wide, and about three inches deep. Cover the bottom with about a half-inch of salt. Place the fish on top of the salt. Now cover the fish with salt so that it mounds up about a half-inch thick at its thinnest part.

2. Using a clean spray bottle, spray water all over the salt until it’s glistening with dampness. Put the pan into the oven at 375 degrees and bake for between 40 minutes (for a two-pounder) to an hour (for a four-pounder). If you want to be exacting, shove (this will not be easy) a meat thermometer through the salt and into the fish when you think it’s nearing doneness. Look for an internal temperature of 125-130 degrees.

3. Remove the fish from the oven and allow it to stand for 10-15 minutes. Break the salt shell, brush off the excess salt and, as you carve the fish, remove the skin. This fish will be so juicy and delicious that no sauce is needed.

Serves two to six, depending on the size of the fish. (Figure about ten ounces per person of whole fish.)

7 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. PattiinMississippi on February 11, 2014

    Had this at a spanish restaurant in St. Pete with Pompano! One of the best fish dishes I have ever had. Will have to try it with the fish we are catching now. Either a big speckled trout or a smaller redfish. Can’t wait

  2. vieuxcarre1 on February 12, 2014

    Had a version of this dish in Tangier, Morocco. Out of all the superb meals we had there, and there were more than can be imagined, this one was close to the top. Who would ever think it would not be salty? Amazing. Moist and delicious.

  3. Jacob T on February 12, 2014

    So do you put the whole fish (head and all) in the oven or just a filet with the skin on? thx

    • Tom Fitzmorris on February 12, 2014

      As the recipe says, you use whole, dressed (gutted, gills removed) fish.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

  4. Gretchen on February 18, 2014

    I tried your recipe last Sunday with a whole 2lb redfish and I cannot believe how easy and wonderful it was. My husband was amazed that there was no additional seasoning added. The fish was cooked perfectly. This skin peeled off with no effort and the meat fell from the bone.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe!! I have already shared it with several people.

  5. rick Normand on May 16, 2014

    Do you think this could be done with fresh water fish, say like Gar ? thanks a lot for your time………rick