Either grilling or baking whole fish is not very hard after you’ve done it once. The skin is succulent and cooking the fish with the bones will make the meat taste even better. Some of the benefits of buying your fishes whole are that they will be cheaper, fresher and easier to get wild caught.
I’m sure the first time you serve this you’ll impress your relatives because the meal will look like what they serve in fancy restaurants. You shouldn’t be afraid of the bones. Well cooked fish will fall off the bone and it won’t be a problem.
A rule of thumb is to be more delicate in the cooking process, so you want to go longer and slower. The recipe presented here is a grilled trout recipe, but if you wanted to bake it instead, you would put it in a 375 F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. When the meat falls off the bone it’s ready.
All the work of gutting, scaling and removing the gills should be handled by your fishmonger so you can focus on your recipe.
The best fishes to cook whole are salmon and trout. They naturally have a lot of fat and will be more forgiving if you overcook them a bit. Sea bass and grouper are other good choices.
Put the fish in a snug-fitting dish so the cooking juices can stay on the fish while cooking. Interesting flavors can be built by putting vegetables under the fish and inside the cavity while cooking. Think lemon slices, fennel, garlic, onion, parsley, dill, carrots, thyme, and rosemary. Let your creativity be the guide!
It’s also very Paleo to eat the fish whole and you can experiment with eating absolutely everything, including the eyes. As an added bonus, you can keep the bones to make fumet (fish stock).
Without further ado, here is the main recipe, which serves 2 people.
Grilled trout with parsley, dill and lemon
- Two 3/4 lb whole trouts, scaled, gutted and cleaned, (don’t stress about the size, medium is a good gage)
- Butter or coconut oil;
- 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley;
- 1 bunch fresh dill;
- Zest of one lemon;
- 2 lemons, one sliced and the other halved;
- Salt and pepper to taste;
- Preheat your broiler.
- Slash the sides of your fishes about 8 times each side with a knife so the butter or oil can make its way in.
- Rub the trouts with butter and season with salt and pepper.
- Stuff the cavity with the chopped parsley, dill and lemon slices.
- Put the fish on a baking rack on a pan for the drippings.
- Sprinkle the lemon zest on top of the fish and add generous knobs of butter on the fish to form a wonderful golden crust.
- You can place the lemon halves on the baking tray too.
- Grill at about 6 inches from the heat source for about 6 minutes on each side.
- Squeeze the roasted lemons on the fish before serving and you’ve got yourself a wonderful dinner.