Saltcrusted Trout – Basil & Orange

Saltcrusted Trout – Basil & Orange

Are you looking for a delicious fish recipe where the subtle taste of fish doesn’t get lost? Saltcrusted Trout is what you need! It might look a bit scary if you’re not familiar with making a saltcrust but it’s maybe the easiest fancy cooking technique I know. I’ll explain how you make a saltcrust further in this post and what the advantages are. 

Inspired by Ben Tish

I’ve been going to a difficult period lately. I won’t bother you with the details but that might explain my absence last month. To say it with a Ben Howard quote: “I have a woman at home, she treats me well”. A great song on a superb album but that’s not the point. I’m truly grateful for her support and the patience she has with me and the situation. Every once in a while she even brings a gift to cheer me up. Last time she brought me this new BBQ book by “Ember Yard” chef Ben Tish titled “Grill Smoke BBQ“. The book brings a nice variation on Ember Yard meals and plates Ben Tish serves at his family. Not the typical American BBQ but a more refined combination of recipes leading to a creative and inspirational book. A more thourough review might follow but now you’re here for the Saltcrusted trout I guess.

Orange Basil trout-6444-3

Saltcrusted Trout

This Saltcrusted Trout is based on one of the recipes I found in the Ember Yard” chef Ben Tish titled “book I got. Ben used wild bream for this recipe. Unfortunately the only fish I could by at the local shop was trout. Not bad either but I liked the idea of wild bream. The combination with basil and orange is simply great! I can tell you this saltcrusted trout was fantastic with these flavors. To make sure both sides of the fish have both of the flavors you can sprinkle the basil with orange juice before you stuff the fish with it. You’ll be surprised how well the trout absorbs the taste of basil and orange. The saltcrust serves as a mini oven that keeps the trout juicy and packed full of taste. Only disadvantage: “It doesn’t add much bbq taste…”Orange Basil trout-6481

Bad estimation…

I’m not much used to cooking fish and that made me make a terrible mistake… I only bought one trout for me and my wife and thought the kids would want some fishsticks instead… Not only would it have been a good thing to buy another trout for my wife… I should have bought a third one for the kids too… We ended up with some kind of appetizer and delicious baked potatoes. A homemade creation with dried lemon verbena. Just call in case you’re interested in the recipe.

Saltcrust technique

As told before making a saltcrust is probably the easiest technique I know. You can’t do much wrong and it always leads to a pure and subtle tasting juicy result. No matter what you’re cooking. So what do I need to do I hear you thinking. First thing is the most important. Start with buying a good quality piece of meat, fish or vegetables. Since you end up with pure flavors you want them to be good. Next step is making the crust. You do this buy mixing a huge amount of salt (+-500 gr.) with a bit of water (+- 1 tbsp.). You can add some extra herbs and seasonings too if you want. Now spread it on a fireproof Grillplate . This one I used is fireproof for indirect cooking. A cheaper one for this. I don’t know how well they cope with woodfire but I guess it might be no problem. Put your fish on top of the salt base and add more salt on top of the fish. While cooking the water will dry out and the salt will form a firm crust that serves as an mini oven inside your smoker.
Saltcrusted Trout

Saltcrust Advantages

Since the crust is packed tightly round the fish it’s holding it’s flavors and juices packed inside the crust. Moreover it’s helping your fish to cook evenly without the risk of burning it. There’s no need to add smoke wood since the crust will keep flavors out as much as it keeps it flavors inside the crust. I might try cold smoking the trout before baking it in a salt crust next time to cope with this minor disadvantage. Once your meal has reached it’s internal temperature the show part begins. You can open the crust at the table to impress your guests! You will open up a treasure of scents right in front of them. They won’t know what’s happening. Only make sure you don’t drop some of the crust on the trout or the subtle flavors will be overruled by salt.

I hope you agree with me this is not a very difficult technique? Otherwise don’t hesitate to ask your questions. I’d be happy to share some thoughts on this since we all need to learn. Talking and reading about it helps me to move boundaries and grow in what I do. If you feel the same way to, please take a moment to share some comments or share with your friends. 

Saltcrusted Trout – Basil & Orange

Saltcrusted Trout – Basil & Orange


  • 4 gutted and scaled trouts
  • 1 orange
  • 1 bunch of basil leaves
  • 2 kg. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. water


1. Prepare your BBQ/Smoker or oven for indirect cooking at 170°C/340°F.

2. Form your salt crust by mixing the salt with the water. Add some more if necessary. The salt needs to feel like wet sand and hold it's form when you put it together.

3. Slice a half orange and sprinkle some remaining juice on the basil leaves. This way the trout will have a more balanced orange and basil taste. Stuff the orange and basil inside the belly of the trout.

4. Spread a base of salt on a large baking tray. You need about 1/3th of the salt in this part.

5. Put the trouts on this salt base and cover them with the remaining salt. The head and tail remain exposed. It's important the body of the trout is firmly packed in the salt crust. to ensure proper cooking.

6. Cook the saltcrusted trout about 25 minutes or the internal temperature of the trout is 50°C/112°F.

7. Remove the baking tray from the BBQ and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

8. Crack the saltcrust in front of your guests and enjoy the fragrents escape. But be careful not to drop parts of the salt crust on the fish. It will be way to salt otherwise. The Skin should let go easily. Serve with Lemon verbena baked potatoes (recipe on demand).

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