Salt-grilled fish

Salt-grilled fish

Leanne Kitchen

We’ve enjoyed this wonderful cooking technique in Laos and Thailand. The salt crust protects the delicate fish from the heat of the barbecue and keeps the juices in. Traditionally an oily fish like mackerel is used, but here we’ve opted for barramundi. The key to getting the cooking right is to have an even, moderate heat source – not too fierce. Make sure the coals on the barbecue are spread out evenly before you start grilling, or if you are using a chargrill pan, that it conducts heat evenly.


Quantity Ingredient
4 lemongrass stems, bruised
4 pandan leaves, trimmed and bruised
4 spring onions, trimmed and coarsely chopped
12 kaffir lime leaves, bruised
4 x 400g whole barramundi, snapper or bream, cleaned
60g cornflour
100g coarse sea salt


Quantity Ingredient
60ml lime juice
60ml fish sauce
2 tablespoons shaved palm sugar
3 red bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
butter lettuce leaves, washed
cherry tomatoes
thai basil leaves
vietnamese mint leaves
coriander leaves
200g thin fresh rice noodles, cooked according to the packet instructions


  1. Divide the lemongrass, pandan leaves, spring onion and lime leaves among the fish cavities, then close each cavity using toothpicks or skewers to secure.
  2. Mix the cornflour with 100 ml water to form a thick paste, then brush the mixture lightly over the fish. Coat the outside of each fish with salt, pressing it firmly so it adheres well – each fish should be lightly coated. Stand the fish at room temperature for 30 minutes or until the salt crust feels dry to the touch.
  3. Heat a barbecue or chargrill pan to medium. Add the fish, in batches if necessary, and cook for 15–20 minutes, turning once, or until the flesh is cooked through.
  4. For the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl with 80 ml water and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Serve the fish with the lettuce leaves for wrapping, and with the tomatoes, herbs, noodles and sauce in separate bowls.
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