Branzino Sotto Sale, Salmoriglio

branzino salmoriglio

Branzino Sotto Sale, Salmoriglio

Whole Salt-Baked Mediterranean Sea Bass
with an olive oil-lemon-garlic herb sauce with red chiles


Fresh Mediterranean Sea Bass on ice is flown in daily and rushed to our local Whole Foods Market. I ask the fishmonger to descale and gut the fish.


The whole branzino is rinsed and patted dry, then rubbed with olive oil. It is stuffed with lemon wheels, sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme, and thin slices of garlic.branzino sotto sale

A salt encasement is made by combining 3 lbs. (one box) of Kosher salt with 4 egg whites and enough water to make a sandy consistency, up to 1 c. or a bit less. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper then fan out enough salt mixture to make a bed for the branzino. Place branzino on the salt bed and cover completely with the remainder of the salt.

branzino sotto sale

Bake the branzino in a pre-heated 425° oven for 35 – 40 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the sauce.

Salmoriglio – an olive oil, lemon, garlic herb sauce with sliced red chile pepper

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1 T. chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced

Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.

Remove fish from the oven and crack the salt dome with a mallet.
Lift the fish out of the salt with a spatula.

branzino in salt dome

Brush excess salt off the fish. Gently peel the skin back and fillet the fish.

branzino salmoriglio
Spoon salmoriglio over the branzino filets.

Baking in a salt crust allows the character of the delicate flesh to shine through. The salt crust seals in the juices, while the skin protects the flesh from becoming salty. The meat is moist and buttery, flaky yet smooth, firm yet tender, silky and velvety. Salmoriglio adds a fresh herbal-citrusy dimension to the dish.

The newest cookbook in my collection, My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino,
was the main resource for this terrific recipe.

UPDATE – The entire meal is now posted here:
La Cucina Calabrese – A Rustic Southern Italian Dinner Party

13 thoughts on “Branzino Sotto Sale, Salmoriglio”

  1. this is so cool. Branzino is one of my favorite fish to order in Italy. I didn’t know you could get it at Whole Foods and this method of preparation is a real wow.

  2. I have only read of this dish and have always wanted to try baking fish in a salt crust. This is a gem – just a thing of beauty and would love to bring this to my table.

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