Salt-Crusted Fish in Coals

By Ben O’Donoghue

Salt-Crusted Fish in Coals

Serves 10

2 Lemons, roughly chopped into 3cm pieces

5kg Rock salt

2  Egg whites, lightly whisked

2 tbsp Fennel seeds

1 x 2kg Whole fish (trout, salmon or barramundi), freshly gutted and gills


1 bunch Flat-leaf parsley

1 Pre-heat your gas barbecue to 180-200oC with the hood down or prepare a hot charcoal fire

2 To prepare the salt crust, place the chopped lemons in a large bowl and add the salt, egg whites and fennel seeds. Mix well

3 On a baking tray large enough to hold the fish, use half the salt mixture to make a bed 2-3cm thick in the shape of the fish and place the fish on top

4 Stuff the parsley into the cavity of the fish to prevent the salt from getting in and making the flesh overly salty

5 Cover the fish with the remaining salt, similar in thickness to the bottom layer of salt. If need be, use scrunched up foil to make a retaining wall to hold the salt in place

6 Place the fish on the barbecue and bake for 40-50 minutes with the lid down

7 If using coals, make a thin base of charcoal by moving the majority of the coals to the side of the fire

8 Place the tray onto this base, then pile the coals around the edge and on top of the fish

9 Check that the fish is cooked by inserting a small knife, or roasting fork, into the thickest part of the fish; carefully touch it to your lips and if it’s warm, the fish is done

10 Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes before removing the crust

11 Use a serrated knife to saw around the salt base, being careful not to cut into the flesh. Lift the top off; it may come away in 1 piece or break into several pieces. Brush any excess salt off the fish with a wet pastry brush

12 To serve, peel back the skin and cut down the centre of the fish, removing the flesh in portions

Recipe courtesy Ben O’Donoghue: renowned chef, BBQ expert and Penfolds culinary ambassador.



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