Originally Posted by ironchef
I've done salt crusted fish before, but it's hard to do ala minute unless the guests are advised by the waitstaff before hand about the wait. I like to do this at home, or if I'm lazy, then I'll do it en papillote. My preference is to serve the fish with some type of vinaigrette. I like how the smooth fatiness in the vinaigrette compliments the texture and flavor of the fish.
I regularly have this in Spain in a restaurant that, in the height of summer, probably does 150 (plus) cover a night. However, for ALL the waiters, it is a common method which they all understand AND they are able to explain it to guests who are more than willing to wait for the experience. AND it is an experience when this fish, encased in whiteness is brought to the table and served.
I love the moments of anticipation as the WAITER/WAITRESS demonstrates cutting throught the salt crust and lifting the fillets onto my plate. It is a bit of pure magic - of food theatre. Indeed, for the guest it is an experience. As an ex-chef, I know what is happening and could do it for myself quite happily. However, for the restaurant, I know just how many heads turn to see what`s going on. Indeed, I`ve heard other guests ask - "what is being served at that table?"
You can do this in a professional restaurant quite easily.
* Cooking the whole fish in salt is more forgiving in terms of time than cooking a fillet.
* Make it a couple of time for your staff and demonstrate how it should be served at the table.
* Nominate staff to be trained to serve the "Fish in a salt crust" - let them practice and the fish they use becomes the dinner/lunch for all staff so that all waiting staff are competent to advise customers and thus reduce wastage. Every waiter will want to serve this!
* Try (for yourself) baking the same weight of 3 fish for +5 minutes and -5 minutes for 2 of them to see just how forgiving this method is.
* In terms of service, what one serves with the fish as the sauce is critical - my recommendations would be:
- spinkled with smoked paprika and a light misting of EVOO;
- sauce vierge;
- sauce hollandaise;
- sauce maltaise - hollandaise flavoured with orange - preferably blood orange although I have served salmon with a clementine hollandaise which worked delightfully for all my guests;
- a foam although these are falling out of favour in the UK.
Of course the sauces then become the responsibility of the kitchen!!!!!
* Put the salt-crust fish on the menu as a "special" and train staff so that they are able to and competent to advise dinners about the dish.
Hope this helps,