Filson Food: Whole Salt Crusted Fish with Horseradish Cream

herbs and lemon wedges on top of reddish fish on bed of salt on baking sheet

This whole fish recipe takes a bit of a leap of faith on the chef’s part when it comes to cooking the fish, but the results are well worth it. Cooking in a salt crust is essentially a method of steaming, but instead of using water to steam, the salt crust holds in the natural moisture from the fish to steam itself. With the addition of herbs and citrus in the salt crust, we are effectively cooking in a flavor pressure cooker.

This recipe works just as well with white fish, such as cod or snapper, as it does with salmon. The crucial part to adhere to is the weight of the fish, the cooking time, and the temperature. Adjust the cooking time by 6–8 minutes for each pound the fish deviates from 5 pounds. The smaller the fish, the trickier it is to hit the perfect cook. I would suggest 5 pounds is the minimum.

Serves: 4

over the shoulder view of hand in bowl of salt with large fish, bowl of citrus and aluminum lined baking sheet on countertop


Whole Fish:

5 lbs Whole Fish, gutted, and head left on

1 Lemon, very thinly sliced

1 Lime, very thinly sliced

8 Sprigs Dill

3 Sprigs Thyme

4 Sprigs Tarragon

48 oz Kosher Salt

1½ Cups Water


2 lbs Baby Yellow Skin Potatoes

¼ Cup Salted Butter


Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Horseradish Cream:

¾ Cup Sour cream

¾ Cup Yoghurt

2 Green Onions, finely sliced

5 Sprigs Parsley, de-stemmed and chopped

3 Sprigs Dill, de-stemmed and chopped

3 Sprigs Tarragon, de-stemmed and chopped

2 Tbsp Capers, finely chopped

2 Tbsp Creamed Horseradish

3 Tbsp Olive oil


Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Garlic Chili Broccoli:

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 Head Broccoli, cut in half through the stem

1 Head Garlic, cut in half through the equator

2 Tbsp Butter

1 Tbsp Sambal Olek Chili Sauce


hand with knife preparing thinly sliced lime and lemon on wooden cutting board
hand preparing herbs on top of salt on baking sheet

Whole Fish: 

1. Pre-heat an oven to 400 °F.

2. Mix the kosher salt and water in a large bowl. It should feel like wet sand and hold its shape when squeezed in your hand.

3. Lay down a ½” layer of salt on a baking sheet in the size and shape of the whole fish.

4. Layer one-third of the herbs and citrus slices on top of the salt and lay the fish on top.

hands removing salt from bowl pouring it over a whole fish on a baking sheet
hands building a salt dome over fish with a wood fired stove in background

5. Fill the inside of the fish cavity with one-third of the herbs and citrus slices.

6. Arrange the remainder of the herbs and citrus on top of the fish.

7. Pile the rest of the salt over the top of the fish so that it is totally covered. Use your hands to form it around the fish. Having a sealed salt crust is crucial to help steam the fish during the roasting.

8. Bake the fish for 45 minutes.

salt crusted whole fish baking in wood fired oven
hand removing salt crust from a fish

9. Take the fish out of the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

10. Using the back of a heavy knife, crack the salt crust and delicately pull off the crust to expose the fish.

11. Pull the herbs and citrus off of the fish, gently peel off the skin, and carve slices off the bones.

12. Once the top filet is removed, pull the head and backbone off the bottom fillet and repeat the process to remove the rest of the fish.

roasted potatoes in a bowl


  1. Simmer the potatoes in heavily salted water until they are fork tender, approximately 15–25 minutes depending on size.
  2. Strain the potatoes and toss with butter, salt, and fresh cracked black pepper in a bowl.
  3. Keep warm until ready to serve.
hand holding knife cutting scallions to put in a bowl of white creamy substance
hands holding knife cutting herbs on wooden cutting board with assorted citrus fruit and spices and oils

Horseradish Herb Cream:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
halved head of broccoli on wooden cutting board with bowl of citrus in background

Garlic Chili Broccoli:

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan over a medium high heat.

2. Add the broccoli and garlic to the pan, with the cut side down.

3. Transfer to a 375 °F oven and roast for 10–12 minutes or until the broccoli is just knife tender.

4. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a burner on low heat.

the husk of a clove of roasted garlic with the cloves removed
knife and spoon set to the side of a pan containing roasted broccoli

5. Squeeze the garlic out of the bulb, discard the garlic skins, and crush the cloves in the pan.

6. Add the butter and Sambal Olek to the pan and baste the broccoli until it is glazed and fully cooked, approximately 2–3 minutes.

top down view of Fish Filet with white sauce roasted potatoes and roasted broccoli on a white plate