#20minutemeal

Whole Grilled Fish with Fresh Herbs and Citrus

aSpoBkrrR9GQ%2B%2BcvpLmqcg.jpg

I used to be intimidated by recipes calling for whole fish, even after growing up with a fishing rod tucked under my arm, and even after culinary school where we covered all things fin fish. Last summer, I explored grilling whole fish. It was a lot less intimidating to work with them outdoors on a gas grill. I’ve since tested and adapted these recipes for indoor cooking, because let’s face it, we all don’t have the option of grilling all the time.

This is the start to a perfect summer night meal, when you want to expel as little effort as possible to eat something light and full flavored. Pair with some grilled vegetables or a salad and you’re a star, a sea star.

What follows is a formula for simple whole grilled fish with herbs and citrus served in 4 of my favorite ways (I’m sure I’ll be amending this in a year or so with 2 additional ways). You can easily modify this formula to fit your favorite flavor combinations, seasonally available produce and local flavor. Or you can jump straight to my recipe for Whole Grilled Trout with Cilantro, Mint, Nam Pla Prik, and Cashews, which you won’t regret one bit.

WHOLE GRILLED FISH WITH FRESH HERBS & CITRUS - 4 WAYS

  1. Lemon + Parsley + Garlic + Pepper + Olive Oil garnished with Hazelnuts

  2. Orange + Parsley + Oregano + Olive Oil garnished with Olives + Capers

  3. Orange + Lime + Cilantro + Serrano + Cumin garnished with Avocado + Tomato

  4. Mint + Cilantro + Thai basil + White Pepper + Kaffir Lime Leaf garnished with Toasted Cashews + Nam Pla Prik Thai Chili Lime Sauce

Serves: 4 - 6

What You Need:

  • 3 small whole fish, such as branzino, trout or red snapper, scaled, cleaned, & heads removed or butterflied, about 1 pound each

  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

  • ¼ - 1 teaspoon ground pepper or other spices or spice blends

  • 1 - 2 bunches of fresh herbs

  • 2 - 3 limes, lemons or oranges, sliced or juiced for dressing

  • 1 tablespoon oil

  • ¼ cup nuts, lightly toasted

  • 1-2 chili peppers, such as jalapeno, serrano or Thai bird’s eye chili, thinly sliced

  • ¼ - ½ cup olives, pickles, capers, or caper berries

What You Do:

  1. Sprinkle sea salt and spices on the insides of the fish. Stuff each fish with few herb sprigs (leaving stems intact) and a few citrus slices.

  2. Brush the outside of each fish lightly with canola oil.

  3. Heat a grill on high heat.

  4. Meanwhile, prepare any sauces or garnishes. Juice or slice the remaining citrus, toast nuts, slice peppers, tomatoes or other fruits, pluck herb leaves from the stems and discard stems.

  5. Grill the fish over high heat, turning once, 6-7 minutes per side or until skin is crisped and flesh is flaky.

  6. Serve immediately garnished with toasted nuts, additional citrus, herb leaves, and more per suggestions above.

No grill? No problem. You can also cook this whole fish under the broiler in a cast iron skillet or broiler safe pan. Heat the pan under the broiler for about 10 minutes. Add the prepared fish to the pan and place back under the broiler for about 6-7 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 5-6 minutes on the other side.

No grill? No problem. You can also cook this whole fish under the broiler in a cast iron skillet or broiler safe pan. Heat the pan under the broiler for about 10 minutes. Add the prepared fish to the pan and place back under the broiler for about 6-7 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 5-6 minutes on the other side.

Fish En Papillote

Fish en papillote or "fish steamed in a packet" is the perfect healthy weeknight-dinner-in-a-flash or prepare-ahead-presentation to amaze your fancy friends dish. I also love it because, like most of my techniques and formulas, it is versatile and can be completed with various types of fish and whatever vegetables, citrus and seasonings I have on hand or feel like using. It works in all seasons - just vary the contents. Spices and fats are optional. So versatile, in fact, everyone in the family can make a personalized version suited to his or her exact tastes and preferences. Last but definitely not least, it conveniently uses up that opened bottle of white wine hanging out in the fridge that no one is ever going to drink.

The amounts listed are for 1 serving or 1 papillote pouch. You can easily multiply to provide as many servings as you need, plus an extra for tomorrow's lunch. This provides a meal unto itself, but also pairs well with additional roasted, steamed or sautéed vegetables, roasted potatoes or steamed rice.

What you need:

  • 3-5 oz fish fillet (cod, arctic char, salmon, monkfish, trout are all good choices)*

  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil or melted butter, optional

  • 2-3 pinches sea salt or kosher salt

  • ground spices, such as black pepper, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, optional

  • 1-2 tablespoons liquid. I prefer a dry white wine, but beer, broth and even water do the trick.

  • 1/4 cup finely sliced or diced vegetables. Use what you have on hand. Carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, cabbage, jalapeño, brussel sprout, and sweet potato are all great.

  • 1 slice of lemon, orange or lime

  • parchment paper cut into large "hearts"

How to prepare the parchment for papillote:

*Note on fish selection: Where you live will determine the best fish choices for you, for freshness and sustainability. Check out this resource by Oceana and Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch for a guide on selecting fish. You can choose printable pocket guides that are specific to your region or download their nifty phone app.

What you do:

Note that fish cooked en papillote will cook faster than if you are roasting fish outside of parchment. The steam trapped inside the papillotte is hotter than your oven and will cook fish faster.