GianMarco’s salt crusted whole fish boasts exciting presentation.
By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Today I am in the kitchen with Giani Respinto, co-owner of GianMarco’s Restaurant. Respinto shares his recipe, knife skills, fish buying tips, and humor while making whole, baked, salt crusted, Mangrove snapper with Italian salsa verde.
For starters he strongly recommends you find a good fish monger, whom you trust. “Fresh fish should not look dead. Touch the fish. Your fingers should bounce back firm to touch skin and meat. It should have clear, not sunken eyes. Inside the meat should be nice bright red,” he describes. “And it should not smell fishy. If fish smells fishy, don’t buy it. Fish should smell like the ocean.” For the Italian salsa verde, he suggests sharpening your knife skills rather than using a food processor or blender. At the restaurant they serve this dish with warm potato salad, in season green beans, and add remaining salsa verde to chopped fresh heirloom tomatoes, making a tomato salad.
Whole Salt Crusted Baked Mangrove Snapper Ingredients:
1-1 ½ Pound Mangrove Snapper
1 Box Kosher Salt
1 Dozen farm egg whites
1 lemon sliced
Few sprigs of rosemary
Add one half pound of kosher salt to a large mixing bowl because you always want to add wet ingredients into dry, rather than vice versa. Wearing gloves to protect your hands from the salt, add some of the egg whites to the bowl of salt, incorporating by using hands and fingers to bind. Repeat until bound together. Press into bottom of half sheet pan, making the bottom of salt coffin. Lay fish on salt bed. Stuff with aromatics of lemon slices and fresh rosemary. As the fish steams from inside out, these aromatics will season from inside out. Completely cover top and sides of whole fish with salt and egg mixture. Bake at 350 to 400 (depending on heat of your oven) for approximately 18 minutes. While fish is baking prepare the Italian Salsa Verde with recipe that follows below. Remove from oven. Salt crust should hard as a rock and slightly golden. Bust salt crust with knife. Remove salt crust in big chunks. Put fork underneath tail. Lift skin up and away from fish. Remove fish from bones with fork and to a platter, ensuing fish does not touch surrounding salt. Pull back bones from tail and remove. Remove bottom half of meat to platter. Spoon salsa verde over top of fish. Serves two. Note: Fish will not need table salt before tasting.
Italian Salsa Verde Ingredients:
½ Cup chopped Italian parsley, NOT curly parsley
1 Tablespoon red onion, hand chopped and minced
1 Clove garlic, smashed and minced (using 1 Tablespoon)
1 Tablespoon capers, smashed and chopped
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Lemons, juice of
Cracked black pepper
Pink Himalayan Salt
Italian Salsa Verde Procedure:
Add parsley to bowl. Smash anchovies with side of knife blade. Chop finely. Add anchovies, onions, and capers to bowl. Mix with spoon. Squeeze juice from lemons. Add lemon juice to bowl. Add olive oil. Mix together with spoon. Taste. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Published, B-Metro magazine, September 2016