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Bob Hart’s Recipe for Grilling a whole fish



As a nation, we are curiously reluctant to cook whole fish on the barbecue. I’m not sure why.


Because frankly, there are few simpler or more delicious things to lift from the grill than a well-proportioned fish in all of its glory.


Choose a good fish to start with – a snapper, maybe, or a flounder (the ones from NZ are outstanding at the moment) or even a kingie, maybe a farmed one. Salmon are OK too, but there are a range of ways to cook those, some more exciting than basic grill.


The problem seems to be that we are nervous about whole fish because of the tendency of the skin to stick to the grill, and maybe tear. So? The flavour it unaffected, and you will soon master the technique for not letting that happen, anyway.


So what we do, far more often than we should, is wrap them in foil. My advice: stop it immediately – you are reducing the flavour to a sad level, and stand a far greater chance of over-cooking it. Not a good idea!


Instead, simply oil the cleaned, whole fish, place three oblique slashes through to the back bone in each side of the fish, place slices of lemon and fennel in the body cavity, season it well with salt and pepper, and oil both the fish and the grill generously with EV olive oil. Then cook, at around 200C – covered, of course – on the grill for 6-10 minutes a side. Take it off and rest it.


And if it has black grill marks, even a few tears, don’t worry – it will also be delicious!