Salt-Crisped Whole Fish with Mint and Pickled Ginger
2 whole fish (about 1½" lbs. each) with skin attached, such as snapper, pompano, striped bass, etc.
2 tablespoons packed pickled ginger slices for sushi, finely chopped
1 garlic glove, minced
Leaves from 4 large mint sprigs
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice and zest of 1 large lime
1. Place the salt block over low heat on a gas grill or stovetop for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and heat for 10 more minutes (see Read Before Heating!, page 25 in Salt Block Cooking).
2. Raise the heat to medium-high and heat the block to about 500°F, about 10 more minutes. For the last 10 minutes, preheat the oven to 500°F (see Getting It Hot, page 24 in Salt Block Cooking).
3. Meanwhile, mix the ginger, garlic, mint and 1 teaspoon of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cut three diagonal slices in the sides of both fish. Fill each slit with 1 teaspoon of the ginger mixture. Pack the rest into the fishes’ cavities. Rub the remaining 1 teaspoon oil all over the fish.
4. Using two heavy oven mitts, transfer the block to a baking sheet. Put the fish on the hot block and slip the pan into the preheated oven. Roast for 5-minutes, then turn over with a metal spatula, scraping carefully to avoid tearing the skin. Roast until the flesh of the fish flakes to gentle pressure, about 5 more minutes.
5. Transfer the fish to a serving platter using a wide spatula. Scatter the lime zest over the fish and drizzle with lime juice. Serve, removing the fish from the bone at the table.
6. To serve the fish, make a slit through the skin of the cooked fish down the length on the spine right above the dorsal fin, using a narrow knife. Insert a spatula into the slit and slide it between the flesh and the bone. Make a slice just behind the head and just in front of the tail, separating the top fillet from the skeleton. Lift the released fillet from the carcass and serve.
7. Using the spatula or two forks, lift the central skeleton, including the head and the tail, from the bottom fillet and discard. Serve the bottom fillet.