• Whole snapper baked in a salt crust with saffron mayonaise (Chris Middleton)Source: Chris Middleton

Baking fish within a salt crust traps the natural flavours inside - perfect with the homemade saffron mayo.






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  • 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) cooking salt
  • 1.2 kg (2 lb 10 oz) whole snapper
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • handful of dill sprigs
  • handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves
  • steamed new potatoes, to serve
  • green salad, to serve

Saffron mayonnaise

  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 large free-range egg yolks
  • ½ tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) light olive oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (fan-forced).

2. Put the cooking salt in a large bowl. Add 250 ml (8 ½ fl oz/1 cup) water and mix together well.

3. On a large baking tray, form half the salt mixture into a fish shape, just larger than the snapper. Sit the fish on top. Place the lemon and lime slices into the cavity of the snapper, along with the bay leaves, dill and parsley. Press the remaining salt mixture over the fish, covering and sealing the fish completely.

4. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the saffron mayonnaise. Soak the saffron threads in 1 tablespoon hot water for 15 minutes. In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk a few drops of the olive oil into the egg yolks. Continue adding small amounts of the oil, whisking well after each addition, until all the oil has been
incorporated. Stir in the saffron threads and water, then taste and adjust the seasoning if required.

6. Remove the fish from the oven. Tap around the edge of the salt crust with the tip of a knife to loosen it, then lift the top off.

7. Transfer the snapper to a platter. Serve immediately, with steamed potatoes, a green salad and the saffron mayonnaise.


This recipe is from Low & Slow (Smith Street Books).