Billy Cotter’s Salt Baked Snapper

A Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes quickly stuck in Billy Cotter's family. There are many dishes such as fried smelts, seafood salads and seafood pastas, but a crowd favorite is the salt baked snapper.
November 15, 2015

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds coarse sea salt (check your Asian market for large inexpensive bags)
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • Snapper, about 4 pounds, cleaned
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh herbs such as thyme, Italian parsley, and basil

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°. Pour salt into a large bowl and stir in egg whites to combine. Spread ⅓ of the salt mixture onto large baking sheet.

Stuff the snapper with lemon slices, bay leaves, and fresh herbs, and place on baking sheet over salt. Cover the snapper completely with remaining salt, pressing lightly.

Place in oven, reduce to 400°, and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove fish from oven and crack the salt crust at the table for a dramatic presentation. Serve with Italian salsa Verde.

About this recipe

Billy Cotter has been a trailblazer in downtown Durham. First with Toast and now Dashi he and his wife Kelli have given us two distinct cuisines that are both fun to eat and embrace using local ingredients to their fullest.

“Growing up we always had a potluck Christmas meal at my grandmother’s house in Fayetteville. All the families brought dishes and yes, there were cheese balls and Jell-O based salads. My grandmother would handle the ham and required chicken and dumplings (dropped, not rolled).

Years later, my wife who is from Pittsburgh introduced me to her grandmother’s traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner, the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My side of the family was quickly on board with this idea, being seafood lovers, and my mother-in-law was delighted to have the tradition continue.

There are many dishes such as fried smelts, seafood salads and seafood pastas, but a crowd favorite is the whole snapper baked in a salt crust with a bright and delicious salsa verde.”

Related Stories & Recipes

Salsa Verde

Served with Billy Cotter's Salt Baked Snapper, this salsa verde completes the dish.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds coarse sea salt (check your Asian market for large inexpensive bags)
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • Snapper, about 4 pounds, cleaned
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh herbs such as thyme, Italian parsley, and basil
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