Serving salt-roasted fish

If you've got company, it's always a nice touch to break through the salt crust tableside. It's like doing a magic trick. But return the fish to the kitchen to fillet it, since this is a messy process.

• Using two spatulas, gently lift the fish out of its salt bed and onto a clean work surface (it will be tender and want to fall apart easily).

Scrape off any salt clinging to the fish with the blade of your slicing knife. It's important to be as thorough as possible with this.

Then fillet the fish by slicing diagonally behind the gills, and then straight down the middle of the back.

Fold back the skin and lift the two fillets off one at a time.

Now lift off the skeleton, which should come away cleanly in one piece, and retrieve the two bottom fillets.

Do a final check to make sure there are no bones or clumps of salt clinging to any of the fish portions before you send them out to your guests.

Tom Colicchio and Elizabeth Gunnison

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