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Advice on Grilling a whole fish?

NanH Jun 3, 2011 10:18 AM

I would like to grill a couple one pound-ish whole red snappers. I also have a fresh fennel bulb and a handful of fava beans. I thought I'd grill the fish with some sliced fennel and garlic inside. The fava beans I bought for something else, but if I should use them here?

Should I use indirect heat and more grill/roast it?

  1. Bada Bing Jun 3, 2011 11:36 AM

    Sounds good! (Although I don't see favas working great inside a fish, but that's just me.) I'd make sure there's an acid and oil element in the seasoning mix, which should help bring out the aromatics that you mention.

    You might need some trial and error while learning what works for you and your grill. Gas grill or charcoal? Either way, make sure you have clean, oiled, and well pre-heated grill grates to minimize sticking. If you have a disposable foil pan of the right size, or maybe even some shaped foil, you can tent over the part of the grate you mean to use in order to superheat the grate.

    on't move the fish for the first two minutes, at least, and use a wide spatula or even a peel or something wide to support the fish for turning. A fish at or under a pound can cook pretty quickly, especially if you let them sit 30 minutes or so at room temp before cooking. So you might do fine with direct heat over a single layer of coals, but if you've only got two fish, I'd create an indirect heat zone just in case.

    You need to decide, too, about whether you want to eat the skin. An effective way to grill skin-on fish is sometimes to scorch the skin heavily and let it work as a protective cover, to be discarded later or (as I do sometimes) to be eaten even if scorched--tasty but carcinogenic....

    1. j
      jaykayen Jun 3, 2011 11:50 AM

      Mashed favas, loosened with some milk/cream/butter or a light vegetable or chicken stock sounds good.

      I would saute the fennel and garlic. A one pound whole snapper will cook through very quickly.

      1. Monica Jun 3, 2011 11:55 AM

        We make grilled fish all the time. I salt it generaously and if i have some lemon and herbs like thyme or rosemary lying around, I stuff them in the cavity. Then I make sure I oil the whole fish generously so it doesn't stick to the grill. There is nothing like grilled fish that looks half eaten.

        lso, they have grilling spray by Pam...i use that a lot too to oil the grill itself.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Monica
          NanH Jun 3, 2011 12:07 PM

          Thanks for the grilling spray tip!

          1. re: NanH
            scubadoo97 Jun 5, 2011 05:22 PM

            For non stick, you can also use the Reynolds non stick wrap on the grill. The aluminum will transfer the heat very well so you will even get grill marks. Just won't get the smoke from any oils dripping on the heated coals, lava rock or burner bars..

        2. n
          NanH Jun 3, 2011 12:06 PM

          May be I'll use some of the fronds inside for a flavoring? I am trying to recreate a flavor I had a a restaurant. Definitely fennel and garlic. Lemon too, inside? I was just going to s&p the outside with OO.

          1. p
            PazzoPerSushi Jun 5, 2011 09:35 AM

            firstly I seriously suggest u to never grill a WHOLE fish, if u don't remove the entrails ur fish's meat will taste really bitter (maily because of the gut i believe)...

            btw I've never used favas or fennels for cooking fish, but if u can use also some lemon and mint here's a tasteful mediterranean recipe

            put half garlic and a little slice of lemon inside the fish's belly , these two are necessary but most people use to add laurel... my choice in the case would be adding rosemary as i find laurel better with meat rather than fish...

            now u should put a grill on the charcoal and let it heat for a few seconds, rub a half lemon to the grill (this will polish it before the next grill, making sure the fish/meat does not stick on it), reheat for a few seconds and then spread a good amount of salt on each side of the fish (don't worry it will not go through the fish's scales, it will make the fish skin to go off easily and also help in making the fish to not stick in the grill, f course never do this with meat or with a slice of fish), put it in the grill at a height of about 1 foot or so (depends on the charcoal's heat).

            now take a mortar and crush 3-4 garlic cloves and some mint's leaves, add a pinch of salt, then once u obtain a regular and thin sauce, add lemon juice (1 huge lemon or tw little ones) and 3-4 spoons of olive oil (first rate one of course)...

            grill ur fishes, make sure u make a good charcoal, turn the regualrly to make sure the won't overburn unfortunately I cannot give u much help... it's all about experience, it took me years of practice to master it, and considering I grill fish or meat mainly outside home (actually I'm a Head Scout) I had to learn how to make a good grill station too (choosing the right stones, orienting it according to wind direction...).

            once ur fishes are perfectly grilled u'll find their skin will come off easily, remove the meat and season with our oil-lemon-garlic-mint sauce, it will taste super good.

            U can use fennel as side dish seasoning with oil and oregano and, eventually a bit of vinegar.

            U can use fava beans to prepare some pasta or a omelette.

            1 Reply
            1. re: PazzoPerSushi
              ospreycove Jun 5, 2011 11:59 AM

              Crispy Snapper skin,(scaled of course), is a real treat, We only discard it if there is a left over whole fish and it is served cold/room temp.

            2. Jay F Jun 5, 2011 11:42 AM

              I like to do what you're talking about with bluefish. I use thick onion slices, rosemary, and lemon slices. (I assume you know enough to have the fish gutted and cleaned first.) I've done it wrapped in foil and not wrapped in foil. Cleanup is a lot easier with foil.

              I've never tried it with red snapper. For my taste, garlic might be too strong with snapper. Do you plan to peel it, put a whole head or cloves, or what?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Jay F
                NanH Jun 5, 2011 02:31 PM

                I never imagined I would have to specify that the fish was cleaned. Who knew?

                I used fresh thyme and lemon slices and grilled it right on the grate. It was delish!!!

                1. re: NanH
                  Jay F Jun 6, 2011 04:50 AM

                  That sounds wonderful. Just wonderful.

                  1. re: Jay F
                    NanH Jun 6, 2011 05:06 AM

                    It was tasty! I would probably up the heat the next time, since the texture was more roasted than grilled. Hubby likes those crispier edges. I used the leftovers on a salad the next day.

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