Poisson Gros Sel or Coarse Salt Fish is a very popular dish in Haiti. As it is a wonderful way to prepare fish, it is also one of the unique ways to appreciate the taste of fresh fish. The dish is traditionally prepared with coarse sea salt (gros sel found in Haiti) and a mixture of fresh herbs.
Over the years and because of the scarcity of certain products, people have learned to substitute and replace. It is said that the gros sel found in Haiti is very similar to regular sea salt. But in my opinion, in terms of flavor, the taste is similar to Fleur de Sel which is “is a hand-harvested sea salt collected by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans.” (Wikipedia, 2014)
Poisson Gros Sel made with Fleur de Sel is more flavorful than the regular sea salt in my opinion. Of course, as there are many brands of sea salts, there are also many brands of fleur de sel. The tastier the salt the more expensive it is. Finding the right salt is only a matter of choice. Only taste is important and finding the right one is not only a monetary choice but a palette choice as well. Choose wisely!
Poisson Gross Sel is made with any meaty fish that will absorb the fresh spices. Such variety may be snapper, barracuda, or kingfish. But any other similar type will work as well and as long as the fish as a lot of flesh and tiny bones. My preferred choice is snapper (pink or blue) and barracuda. The dish can also be prepared with swordfish, and again it is by choice. This one is not my personal favorite because I find the texture to be firmer than other types of fish.
The dish is prepared with fresh spices such as scallion, onion, garlic, thyme, parsley, and scotch bonnet pepper or habanero pepper. Additionally, a mixture of salted seasoning salt is added. Many add chicken bouillon. My prepared choice is a good brand of fish seasoning for more flavoring.
I will sometimes bypass the fish seasoning if I am preparing the fish with Fleur de Sel because of the bold flavors released by the salt. The fish is marinated for a long time and slowly cooked to preserve texture. The sauce is separately made with the fish marinate and poured over the fish as the final step. A spicy and flavorful way to cook fresh fish!