cooking a whole fish
I'd like to cook a whole fish next week....dinner party cooking for 4 people.
Is this crazy?
I did it a long time ago, simply stuffing it (can't remember the type of fish...probably red snapper) and grilling on the stovetop. I think I had seen Mario Batali do it on Molto Mario.
Thanks for any thoughts.
I do quite a bit of whole fish:
1. Steam in the steamer; at serving pour over molten oil+toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, fermented black beans, and juilenned ginger & garlic; and top with torn cilantro, sliced chile, and chopped chives.
2. En papillote; in the oven and combined with you name it.
3. Fry/deep fry in the wok on the stove top; serve in the usual Asian ways. Usually serve the fish on top of appropriate quick julienned vegetable stir fry; or with different sauces.
4. Like others, I do fish in banana leaves - just get them anytime at the grocery store.
I bake in the oven loosely wrapped in oiled foil, and use seasoning, herbs, lemon slices, onion slices, fennel slices pushed into the slit and around the fish. Make sure the foil is sealed and bake on a tray because the fish is hard to get out of the oven once cooked.
When I can I avoid cooking in foil ,I use a a shallow pan vegetables on bottom ,onion,fennel,garlic etc and herbs sometimes olives sometimes wine .Oily fish gets oregano and lemon sometimes I use capers , I score the fish and like a burn enjoying the crispy tail. Salmon is often cooked with lime ,ginger ,hoisin,sesame etc.Oh yes some veggies in the cavity
For whole fish on stovetop, I typically stuff with aromatics or otherwise cover with a spice rub. Then I wrap in oiled banana leaves which I dry roast in a hot pan until the leaves are charred and the fish is cooked. This method minimizes fish odors but also lends a pleasant smokiness to the fish as if it were roasted outdoors.
Nice technique. I wonder if that would lend a pleasant smokiness to my apartment, also, as I don't have a exhaust fan.
Do you start with frozen banana leaves, defrosted? Maybe this is a silly question...unless you have a banana plant in your living room? I am being completely serious here, BTW.
I have a difficult time finding frozen banana leaves in Brooklyn, for some reason, even in Spanish markets.
My hood fan blows directly into my face, so it's really of little use. The banana leaves generate a little bit of smoke and with little ventilation I make sure to watch before they get all the way to black. The oil slows down the process well enough, but you can do this in the broiler to minimize smoking your apartment.
I almost always have a package of banana leaves in the freezer. A few minutes on the counter and they're ready to go. I've never seen them in Spanish markets, but they are almost always in Asian stores.
We love to cook a whole fish... usually it's a day-boat freshly caught cod from the Gulf of Maine. Here are 3 recipes we use over & over:
1.) This is a paraphrased recipe of one by James Patterson in his "Fish and Shellfish" cookbook: LLabarrow Al Forn, pg. 15.
The bottom of an oval baking dish big enough to hold the fish is smeared with EVOO and set aside...oven is preheated to 400F. Several baking potatoes are peeled, thinly sliced in rounds then layered in the baking dish. Each layer is sprinkled with minced garlic, chopped thyme leaves, S & P, and olive oil. I had three layers. This is put into the oven to to get a head start on the fish.....bake for 20 minutes. Peterson does not take the head off a whole fish but I had to so it would fit into the dish. Rinse the fish and blot dry, season all over with EVOO and S & P. Put the fish on top of the potatoes, strew chopped tomatoes and pitted brine-cured olives all around and lightly season. Bake for 15 minutes per inch. Ours took about 35 minutes. Really, really delicious. It seems like a lot of work but it was very easy to put together and produced a dish full of flavor.
2.) Another whole fish recipe I've made with great success:
First I seasoned the fish inside and out with Charmoula suce (just google for an easy recipe) then I finely chopped celery and shallots. These were mixed with S & P plus chopped fresh parsley, tarragon and marjoram. All was tuffed into the cleaned, oiled fish. I left the head on this time. Into a large buttered roasting pan it went then into a 350F pre-heated oven for 35 minutes.
3.) This last is for a whole grilled fish:
Basically all you do is rinse and pat dry the whole fish. Salt inside and out. In EVOO sautee the garlic and scallions for a bit then add the chopped herbs. Let that meld over medium heat then add the last 4 ingredients. Let cool a little and stuff the fish, holding it together with toothpicks. I had to use thin wooden skewers with the top half broken off. The fish is grilled for about 25-30 minutes.
1 whole white fish
Salt & pepper
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
3 or 4 scallions
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 TBSP chopped tarragon
1 TBSP chopped cilatro
1/4 cup chopped mint
1 cup finely ground walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup lime juice