Whole Grilled Fish with Lemon and Marjoram Vinaigrette

Nuvita Biscuits

Grilling whole fish is my favorite way to cook fish.  The skin protects and flavors the delicate meat. The bones make the meat juicy.  This result is a better tasting fillet. Plus, a whole fish on a platter makes a dramatic presentation.  It’s fun. And, it is easy.

Your whole fish should be gutted and scaled.  Removing the guts leaves a shallow cavity into which you can throw in herbs and a little citrus.  With plenty of olive oil rubbed all over the outside, all you need is fire…oh, and a grilling basket helps immensely.  If you don’t have one, make sure your grill is completely clean.  Oil the grill as well as both sides of a large spatula.  If the skin sticks to anything, it will rip off and take some of the meat with it….and you could end up with a mess.  You don’t have these issues with a basket. Cooking the fish takes 10-15 minutes.  I like to make an lemon herb vinaigrette to drizzle all over the fillets and then serve it with a grilled vegetable and then some sort of heavy grain like pasta.



For the fish:

  • One 1 1/2 lb whole red snapper, guts and scales removed
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • a small fistful of fresh marjoram or thyme sprigs

For the sauce:

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh marjoram or thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


PREP WHOLE FISH:  Prepare the grill.  You are going to begin grilling when the fire is MEDIUM LOW.  Rinse the fish inside and out and then completely dry it with paper towels.  Using a sharp knife, make diagonal incisions across the width of the fish 1-inch apart.  Cut all the way down to the bone.  Do this on both sides of the fish. Rub the fish with a generous amount of olive oil all over including the inside cavity.  Now, season the fish inside and out with sea salt and pepper. Stuff the inside cavity with the marjoram sprigs and lemon slices.

MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE: Some of the vinaigrette will season the fish.  The rest will come to the table to be passed around like a sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, chopped marjoram, parsley, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until it is emulsified.  Taste and make adjustments: add salt and pepper and more olive oil if desired. Spoon some of the vinaigrette into the cuts you made in the fish.  This will flavor the meat as it cooks.

Note: Be sure that you do not cross-contaminate the vinaigrette when you are seasoning the fish.  If the spoon touches the fish, do not put it back into the vinaigrette.

GRILL:  Place whole fish in a wire basket (or directly onto a clean grill) and then onto the grill.  Cover the grill and cook until each side is golden and a metal skewer can be inserted easily and comes out warm, about 5-7 minutes per side.  Using the basket makes it easy to turn the fish.

SERVE:  Place the whole fish on a platter.  Run a sharp knife between the meat and the bones to lift off the fillet. This sounds much easier than it really is.  Do the best you can. One fillet serves one person. Plate the fillet and drizzle it with some of the vinaigrette. Turn the fish over and remove the fillet from the other side. Serve with grilled vegetables and a substantial starch or grain. Pass the vinaigrette at the table for those that like more sauce.





Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Scott W on Feb 10, 2013

    (Water those fish!!)
    I guess our’s were just a tad too salty today but they sure were good.

  2. posted by Kaylla on Feb 10, 2013

    Goby, Clown Fish, Hawk Fish, Royal Gramma, Damsels, Eels, Blennies. Which ones will look good and get along together?
    For a Fish Only w/ decorative rock.
    I don’t have any other fish. The tank is still cycling so I’m planning ahead of time. And I have a 30 gal tank.

  3. posted by davemc74656 on Feb 10, 2013

    Can diseases that tropical fish get be passed on to humans?
    Can the parasites like ich, anchor worm, etc be passes on to humans if you put your hand in the tank when they are sick?

  4. posted by kamikami on Mar 18, 2013

    hi.What are the benefits of olive oil and what is best to use?

  5. posted by Jeanelle the Retard on Mar 18, 2013

    In all the recipes I have come across for homemade skin/hair remedies it mentions olive oil. I have extra virgin olive oil (use for marinades, dressings, cooking). Is this the best type to use for these purposes because the recipes are vague.

  6. posted by Cliffy N on Mar 21, 2013

    I was planning on using olive oil and wanted to add some herbs to make a nice flavor. Should I use canned artichoke hearts for this? How long should they stay in the oil before I can use them in something? I like to use them in my hummus. I used to buy some really good ones at Randall’s for this but they stopped carrying the ones that I liked. They were rather pricey anyhow as they were an Italian brand.

  7. posted by The Beatles on Mar 25, 2013

    Olive oil is pretty darn expensive. >;[

  8. posted by Jeff on Mar 25, 2013

    Olive oil has a very high amount of fat. I read on the label of this oil that I have that is has 14 grams of fat per tablespoonfull!

    But from what I gather, this fat is actually good fat. Is that true? What kind is it?

    What are the health benefits of consuming olive oil? Is there a limit? How much is too much?

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