Name That Food!

Mystery Meat

I know you all spent your weekend banging your heads on the table trying to guess mystery meal. Some of you got pretty close on the outside layer. Unfortunately, no one got remotely close what is on the inside. But now your long wait is over, after the jump…


What is that thing!!?!?

For those who need a little more help:

Red Snapper

That’s right, 80P cooked (with some help from Gansie) salt-crusted whole Red Snapper. We first ate this dish at Komi a few years back…they used Bronzino. We’ve been talking up this delicacy to anyone who would listen, and some who wouldn’t, ever since. Turns out, Komi was nice enough to give the Washington Post a recipe. This was a total shot in the dark to make, as neither of us had cooked whole fish before. But after having gone through it all, I have to say that is really is not difficult and had some pretty amazing results.

To begin with, we couldn’t find Bronzino, but Red Snapper works just fine. Two fish was plenty for 8 people; one fish would be fine for 3-4 people. When ordering the fish, follow that recipe and make sure to have it gutted, scaled and cleaned. Basically, you are left with meat and bones. Oh, and don’t be a wuss, tell them to keep the head on. We got the snapper at Whole Foods. They, in turn, got half of my last paycheck. Okay fine, enough with the Whole Foods bitching this time, because they delivered the goods. The fish was fresh and it didn’t help that the new Harris Teeter doesn’t carry any whole fish.

The crust you saw in the photo on Friday is just egg whites and tons of salt (5 cups worth). The hardest part of the meal shouldn’t have been a challenge at all. If we had a freaking hand mixer it wouldn’t have taken us 15 minutes of hard labor to beat 12 egg whites. But once we finished and folded in the 16 pounds of salt, it’s just a matter of sticking it in the oven.

Egg Beaters

After cooking the fish, the crust comes off with just a couple scrapes with a knife. The fish was really tender and juicy (dare I say succulent) and the only seasoning we used was some lemon slices in the fish as it baked.

Thanks for playing this week’s episode of Name That Food! Prizes and other considerations provided by the Glad family of products. And please, have your pets gutted, scaled and cleaned.

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  • Caroline May 12, 2008  

    You should have gone to the Maine Ave seafood market; I’m sure it would have been less expensive there. I’ve been disapppointed by the seafood department at the new HT; I had to totally change my dinner plans at the last minute when I found out they didn’t have mussels. (Also, what’s up with HT never having strawberries? Isn’t it the peak of strawberry season?)

  • BS May 12, 2008  

    wait I don’t get how it is served – do you eat this crust or do you scrape it off before eating the fish?

  • 80 Proof May 12, 2008  

    Yeah, I totally should have bought the fish down there, but we were limited on time and Whole Foods is on the way back home. I knew I was getting ripped off, but at least they had some whole fish. More than I can say about HT.

  • 80 Proof May 12, 2008  

    nah, never eat any of the crust. The egg whites and salt just keep the heat and moisture locked in. You scrape all the salt crust off, then peel the skin off and eat.

  • gansie May 12, 2008  

    sorry, BS. 80P’s a photo snob and didn’t like the other pictures we took which showed more of the steps. You kind of crack/scrape the egg white/salt mixture completely off the fish. They you peel the skin off (very easy) and try to take the bones out (not as easy). Everyone just used their fork to take the amount of fish they wanted. It was so moist and flavorful, without any real flavoring.

  • belmontmedina May 12, 2008  

    I was home in NC over the weekend, and my HT did have whole fish. Sadly, it was farm-raised tilapia from China…

    HT= seafood FAIL

  • 80 Proof May 12, 2008  

    BTW, the last pic is taken by our vary own Gansie…her finest shot to date.

  • JoeHoya May 12, 2008  

    Sounds like the new HT is having some issues.

    I have never been to the one in Pentagon City without them having ridiculous quantities of strawberries (and usually on significant sale at this time of year), and although I don’t always look for them, I know I’ve seen mussels there on several occasions.

    Salt-crusted fish! Brilliant!

    Haven’t had the branzino at Komi, but I loved it when I had it at Dino a year or so ago. Definitely something I’ve been meaning to try at home.

  • Britannia May 12, 2008  

    I was in HT last week and they had buy one get one free on strawberries, maybe they just sold out due to the offer.

    As for the snapper, AMAZING. I’ve only ever had a whole red snapper once and that was at Ceiba, not a fan of the eyes peering at me!

    You were very cunning with the photo challenge, 80P.

  • 80PMom May 12, 2008  

    What was the rest of the menu?
    Don’t be too hard on WF; the service is good.

  • 80 Proof May 12, 2008  

    I wasn’t too hard on them! I actually gave them some credit this time.

    We also sauteed some kale and green chard with garlic and olive oil. Served some sort of bulgar wheat, chick pea, tahini sauce concoction that Gansie can spell out more. Also whole wheat bread with a goat cheese-sundried tomato spread.

    And to top if off, some of 80P’s secret chocolate truffles, which I might post about in the future.

    Needless to say, busy night of cooking.

  • gansie May 12, 2008  

    i cooked the bulgur with some onion and garlic and extra virgin, than added water, brought to boil, then simmered till done.

    i made a sauce for it with roasted red peppers, parsley, a touch of heavy cream (from the truffles), extra virgin, lots of garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, tahini sauce and um, i think thats it.

    when we were ready to serve, i added a can of chickpeas to the bulgur and then dressed it with the sauce.

    80P didn’t like the picture i took of the bulgur so no final plate shot on ES 🙁

  • courtney May 12, 2008  

    Cooking a whole fish is a salt crust is on my things to do list this summer.
    Great Blog. I was born and raised in D.C!

  • miked. May 12, 2008  

    i was one of the fortunate ones invited to share that tasty fish. a word of advice. do not try to each the salty meringue…it looked very inviting but was a bad idea :-/.

    can’t you get whole fish at best way?

  • 80 Proof May 12, 2008  

    Yeah, Best Way in Mt. Pleasant actually has a several kinds of whole fish, but I get scared of their freshness. Whether that’s justified or not, I don’t know. After all, we buy their produce all the time.

  • Maidelitala May 12, 2008  

    do you eat the head too?

  • miked. May 13, 2008  

    you can eat the head–the parts that aren’t bone, anyway–but we didn’t. According to ‘ojos claros’, a local surfer at puerto chicama in peru (longest wave in the world–2km) that’s the best part. being a good host, he offered me one of the eyeballs, but I declined (he ate it)

  • gansie May 13, 2008  

    i actually went in there and grabbed/ate the cheek meat. at komi they said that was a “delicacy” or something like that.

  • dad gasnsie May 15, 2008  




  • Farina May 28, 2008  

    hi hi 😉

    have u ever thought of steaming the whole fish? just mix some thinly sliced spring onion, garlic, ginger, lemon/lime juice, salt & sugar and soysauce, pour it over the fish and steam for maybe 5-10min. u can either eat it on its own or with warm white rice. Im asian so i like eating my fish with rice. lol.

    alternatively, just deep-fry the fish by coating it with salt & turmeric and make the spicy, sweet & sour sauce.


  • Coonass cook July 12, 2008  

    If I had gotten to this site earlier I would have nailed it this is one of my favorite ways to cook whole fish.

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