Sunday, June 14, 2009

Whole Grilled Fish

When people think of grilled fish, I'd bet that 80 to 90% of people reach for salmon or tuna cuts and don't look any further. Most other fish is looked over because people don't know what to do with it. They are used to farmed salmon and sometimes over-fished tuna because that's what the stores and restaurants have pushed for sale over the past 10-20 years. These cuts can be mighty tasty and often good in all kinds of cooking applications, but I find whole grilled fish to be exponentially better in flavor and moisture. Besides, there's nothing better than tossing a whole, seasoned fish on the grill for a few minutes and impressing your friends with a perfectly cooked dinner - head, tail and all.

I always prefer to buy fish that is approved by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch because they keep a close watch on what is being over-fished and what is potenitally harmful to your health (see: mercury in fish). If you're not in to tree hugging or preventing brain damage in your unborn child feel free to ignore the list, but I personally find the information useful. Over the years I have found that often, the more environmentally friendly fish like Spanish mackerel or mullet are not only cheaper, but are far tastier as well.

After that rant, tonight we (somewhat shamefully) grilled whole Gulf red snapper. Not exactly on the top of the list of environmentally friendly species, but it sure was good. There were some large Spanish mackerel in the case (one of my all-time favorite grilled fish) at our local Harry's Farmer's Market but the snapper was unbelievably fresh and the size was just right - about a pound each. According to our fish monger they had arrived just a couple hours before we purchased them. I snagged a couple and grilled them whole over a charcoal fire. Topped with a peach salsa and a side of grilled corn and bread, it was a great Saturday night dinner.

So the next time you're in the mood for fish, check out the Monterey Bay guide for sustainable seafood choices and instead of the usual salmon or tuna, try something different - a fresh whole fish. I think you'll be surprised at how great it turns out.


outdoorgriller said...

That looks good.The heads add flavor. Some people might not think that is appetizing but I dont care.I have a collection of tips and recipes and if you would like to see them you can visit

Christopher said...

Wow... that Montery Bay Aquarium site is great. I had no idea so many "popular" species (i.e. my favorite: Swordfish) were on the DON'T EAT list. Thanks for the information.