Salt-Crisped Whole Fish with Mint and Pickled Ginger
2 8x12x1.5 inch salt block
- 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
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.