Alas, the evil trojan-horse-internet-malware-virus-monster has been eliminated and we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming here on giusto! Damn trollers have nothing better to do than hack my site…put down the red bull, remove your hand from your pants and try a treadmill ya bastards.
On to happier things, more delicious things like grilling a whole fish. I’m asked time and time again what my favorite fish preparation is and I always respond “whole grilled fish”. Staring down a whole fish eye-to-eye may seem daunting, but that dude’s dead and can’t fight back so don’t worry. Honestly, your fish monger will do the dirty work, that’s what they’re there for.
First: Find a fish market, asian market, or grocery store selling fresh caught fish. The MOST IMPORTANT part to grilling any fish is choosing the freshest catch possible. If your recipe calls for snapper, but the trout look better (like today’s recipe), for christs sake buy the trout. How will you know if it’s fresh? Most of all it shouldn’t smell “fishy”, it should smell clean and mildly of the ocean. Don’t be embarrassed to ask to smell, they’ll think you’re cool, promise. Also, the eyes should be clear, wet, and the skin should have a light film to it – trust me, that’s a good sign.
Second: Once you’ve chosen your fishy friend, have your fish monger butterfly the whole fish. Butterflying will remove all of the rib bones and back bone leaving you with nothing but the flesh, head, tail, and few fins. No worries, they’re easily removed after it’s cooked.
Third: Crank your grill up to full whack and use a fish or vegetable grill sheet if your grill has thin grates. The idea is to increase the surface area as much as possible to reduce sticking and increase flavor.
Last: Rinse your fish inside and out, pat dry and then season with salt, pepper, and maybe some lemons or herbage in the cavity to help season the fish from the inside. Coat lightly with oil, add to the grill and back away! The idea is to allow the skin to crisp up and remove itself from the grill before flipping. Watch for the meat on the grill-side-down to turn opaque, carefully slip a spatula under the fish and flip gingerly using your hands to keep it from breaking apart. Grill on the other side for the same amount of time and remove.
It’s that easy. Depending on the thickness of your fish you’ll need to monitor the heat so the skin doesn’t burn before it’s ready to turn. The skin is actually my favorite part depending on the fish variety, trout and salmon are the best. That brings me to my main point:
Eating whole fish allows you to enjoy every cut, flavor, and texture the variety has to offer. From the flaky filet to the tender cheeks, fatty belly, and rich head meat (awkward term but really tasty). Even the tail is edible, crunchy and smoky when charred up just right.
So get out there and start grilling whole fish, you have nothing to lose and so many new flavors to gain. You could eat it plain with lemon & oil, topped with fresh tomatoes and basil, or glazed over with a sticky sweet sauce. Any way you grill it, it’s going to be a new favorite or my name’s not Big Fat Paulie.
SPARK NOTES: 1. BUY FRESH FISH 2. HAVE IT BUTTERFLIED 3.SEASON INSIDE & OUT 4.GRILL, FLIPPING ONCE 5.TOP WITH LEMON, HERBS, TOMATO, PESTO, WHO CARE’S IT’S AWESOME NO MATTER WHAT.