Steelhead Trout Baked Whole in Sea Salt

I think it was the Chinese who first cooked a whole fish, or indeed a whole chicken or other type of poultry, in a mountain of sea salt. It looks very impressive, and in the case of fish makes it a lot easier to get it right and not over-cook your fish. It is very important to use coarse sea salt, or it will not form a crust.


  • 1 steelhead trout, scaled and cleaned
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • A large bunch of fresh fennel leaves and stalks
  • lb (about 7 cups) natural coarse sea salt


Season the inside of the trout well with salt and pepper, and fill the stomach cavity with the fennel leaves and stalks (unchopped). Cover the bottom of a large roasting pan with a layer of salt, ½ inch deep. Place the trout on top of the salt. Pile the rest of the salt over the fish so that it is completely covered by at least ½ inch all over. Don’t worry if the head and tail protrude slightly. Sprinkle a little water over the salt.

Put in a preheated oven at 425°F and bake for 40 minutes. To test if the fish is cooked, pierce with a skewer: if it comes out warm, the fish will be ready. Peel off the salt crust, and the skin should come with it.