Salt-crusted Roast Beef – Whip It UP!

SALT-roasting yields beef that is incredibly juicy. Let the beef shine at the Christmas dining table. This is unadulterated simplicity at its best! Hold the sauce or gravy. All the meat needs is a grind of freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of excellent extra-virgin olive oil. Complement it with a refreshing Smoked Duck salad and Gin-cured Salmon for a homely Christmas dinner to end 2020 on a sumptuous note.

Total Time: 1½ hours
Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: $80-$120
Serves: 6 persons

A: Beef

2kg tenderloin roasting beef, chilled

3kg sea salt, coarse
Black peppercorns
A few rosemary sprigs

Kitchen twine

B: Accompaniments

6-8 whole onions, skin on
Red peppercorns

Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Remove beef from fridge. Let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Pat dry beef. Using kitchen twine, tie beef at approximately 5cm intervals. Roll beef evenly in pepper, followed by rosemary.

3. Place all salt in a large mixing bowl. Scatter loose rosemary that have fallen off beef onto salt.

Slowly drizzle water over salt while mixing with one hand until salt feels like moist beach sand. It should be able to form clumps when squeezed.

4. Line a large roasting pan with baking paper. Tightly pack salt into rectangular block, approximately 1.5cm to 2cm thick, with a base larger than the beef.

5. Position beef onto salt. If required, sprinkle water to moisten salt to hold it together. Make sure the beef is fully encrusted with an even thickness of salt.

6. Preheat oven to 230°C for 10 minutes.

7. Wrap onions with baking paper. Place the whole bag of onions on a separate tray and slot it into the lower half of the oven.

8. Position baking tray with beef in the middle rack, above the onions. If you have a food thermometer, insert metal probe into thickest part of the roast. For medium-rare meat, the meter should read 50–54°C; for medium 60–63°C and for medium-well, it would be 65–68°C. Once the internal temperature reaches the desired doneness, remove beef from the oven.

In the absence of a food thermometer, the estimated roasting timing would be 20 minutes for medium rare.

9. Once roasting is done, remove beef promptly from the oven but leave onions inside. Turn oven off.

10. Allow beef to rest at least 20 minutes or up to 50 minutes maximum. As salt retains heat well, the residual heat will continue cooking the meat.

11. To crack open salt crust, use the back of a knife or a metal ladle. Remove roast and lightly scrape off all salt.

12. Then slice to desired thickness. Put beef on a large dinner plate.

13. Remove onions from oven. Peel them and cut into quarters and arrange them on the same plate as the beef. Add red peppercorns. Grind some salt and pepper over onions. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.


BUYING TIP: Tenderloin from the animal’s ribcage with its delicate bovine flavour is best suited to roasting.

TECHNIQUE: Rub rosemary between your fingers to release its aroma; then roughly chop whole sprig including leaves.

Photos: Lee Mun Yee

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