The perfect way for an angler who loves to cook to show off his fish is serving it whole, fresh off the grill, with crispy skin and moist flesh. Problem is, that’s not usually how it happens. Here is how to grill a whole fish so it’s juicy, smoky, and beautifully intact.
Whole Grilled Fish
- 1 whole fish, scaled and gutted, up to around 2 lb. or so (snapper, bass, trout, flounder, striped bass, and bluefish work best)
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
- 1 Lemon
1. Heat the grill on high. Once the grates are hot, turn down to medium. If using charcoal, simply rake the coals to ensure an even layer of heat. Clean the grill with a wire brush.
2. Make three diagonal cuts in each side of the fish, straight to the bone. Rub both sides of the fish with the oil, then salt and pepper it.
3. Lay the fish on the grill, uncovered, and go away—grab a beer, check the score of the game, anything. After 5 minutes, use tongs to gently pry the fish from the grates to ease it free from any sticky spots. Set it back down and go away for another 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Slide a long-handled spatula beneath the fish’s heaviest section and gently roll it over. Pretend that it’s a baby on a rug who’s fallen asleep on your remote. To get that remote, you want to roll that baby up and over without waking him.
5. Continue cooking for up to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. To check for doneness, use a knife to probe the diagonal cuts you made in the flesh. The meat should look opaque. Gently place the fish on a platter, squeeze some lemon juice onto it, and serve.