When I learned to make Thai salt crusted fish with seafood sauce, there was no turning back! I love cooking fish this way.
It is hugely popular at street food stalls all over Thailand and like all good things, it eventually made its way onto western Thai restaurant menus too.
The scales are left on the fish so that the meat doesn’t become too salty. Caking the skin in all that salt keeps almost all the moisture in the flesh. This is so good!
The skin dries out and is not eaten. Simply peel the skin off and enjoy the juicy fish meat with the fish Thai seafood dipping sauce .
You don’t eat the aromatics but they give off an amazing aroma when served.
Getting this Thai salt crusted fish right…
Thai salt crusted fish needs to be grilled low and slow. I love seeing the street food stalls in Thailand that specialise in this grilled fish.
The fish is placed over a mild charcoal fire and then cooked for about an hour. As a result, the juices stay in the fish. You will be rewarded for your patience.
So be sure that your barbecue has a very low smoky heat. The smoke adds to the flavour as well.
It is very important to ensure the fish covers the fish skin. Believe it or not, most of it stays on with the help of the flour and water.
Thai salt crusted fish is so easy to make so there isn’t much you need to do. You could of course place the aromatics inside the fish a couple of hours before cooking though.
You can also prepare the Thai seafood sauce a few hours before serving.
Do this and Thai salt crusted fish will be the perfect dish for a party. Just heat up your barbecue and turn the fish a couple time. Voilá! It’s ready to serve.
If you like this recipe, you might like to try some of these too…
Making the seafood sauce for Thai salt crusted fish…
Thai seafood sauce is available at Thai grocers. I tend to make my own. It’s just better. Here is the ingredients list and how to make this easy and tasty sauce.
6 green bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
4–6 red bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic
1 tbsp oyster sauce
5 tbsp coriander leaves and stems
3 tbsp fish sauce
125ml (½ cup) lime juice
2 tbsp sugar
Place the chillies, garlic and coriander in a pestle and mortar or food processor and pound or blend to a chunky paste. Add the remaining ingredients and taste. Add more sugar and/or a little salt if desired. This dipping sauce is excellent with all seafood.
- 2 large whole sea bream (about 1 kilo, 2lb each), cleaned but not scaled
- 500g approx. (2 cups) course sea salt
- 3 tbsp all purpose (plain) flour
- Water as needed
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 thumbs sized piece of galangal sliced into about 10 pieces
- 4 stalks lemongrass, lightly smashed
- 10 kaffir lime leaves or 1 sliced lime
- 1 batch seafood sauce
- Place the bream on a clean surface and stuff with the aromatics, equally in the cavities. Use Kaffir lime leaves if you have them but sliced limes will work almost as well.
- Pour the salt into a bowl and mix it with the flour and just a tablespoon or two of water until it is slightly moist to the touch.
- Start rubbing the salt all over the fish, pressing down slightly to help it stick. Flip the fish over and do the same on the other side.
- Set up your barbecue for direct heat cooking. It is essential that your coals not be too hot. Grilling fish over hot direct heat would normally only take about 8–10 minutes. You want to slow this down so that the fish cooks slowly.
- Do not turn the fish for 15 minutes. Flip and cook for another 15 minutes. Then turn often until cooked through.
- The cooking process over the low heat should take about 40 minutes so adjust the heat accordingly.
- After about 40 minutes, your bream should be cooked through and browned slightly in a few places but not char grilled. You should still be able to see the white salt crust.
- To serve, place the fish on a warm platter. Peel the skin off the fish. Sometimes I use scissors or a sharp knife to help remove the skin. Cut into the meat and dip away!
I hope you enjoy this Thai salt crusted fish recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.