Happy Summer everyone! I hope the sun has been shining in your corner of the world. Construction on the kitchen is moving along, though I am absolutely dying to get in there and cook. Three and a half more weeks, if all goes as planned! Luckily, the weather has been incredible, so we’ve made good use of our grills. I thought I’d share my recipe for Grilled Whole Trout with Lemon, Fennel and Parsley, posted last summer on the aesthete and the dilettante. It is simple enough for a weeknight family meal, yet perfect in presentation for your next get together. Be sure to choose a fish with firm flesh, clear eyes, and a super clean smell – don’t be afraid to ask for a closer peek! I chose trout because it was fresh and local, but snapper would be a great substitute.
Another advantage to grilling fish whole is that you can be creative and stuff it with whatever citrus and tender herbs you have on hand. I decided on lemon, fennel, and parsley, but you could give it Mexican flair with lime, fresh garlic, chiles and cilantro, or try the classic combination of lemon and dill.
Grilled Whole Trout with Lemon, Fennel and Parsley
- 1 whole 3-lb trout or other similar sized fish such as snapper, scaled, gutted and cleaned
- 1 small fennel bulb, stalks removed, fronds finely chopped and reserved
- 1 shallot, sliced into thin rounds
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt
- 2 lemons, 1 sliced into thin rounds, the other halved
- 1 bunch parsley, half finely chopped, half reserved for other use or platter presentation
Slice trimmed fennel bulb in half lengthwise, cut out v-shaped core and discard, then thinly slice into half rounds. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, adding sliced fennel and shallot. Season with a pinch kosher salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Set side to cool.
Rinse the fish and pat dry. Season fish inside and out with kosher salt, then layer lemon slices inside cavity of fish. Scoop sauteed fennel and shallots from olive oil with a slotted spoon and spread evenly in cavity of fish (reserving the oil). Sprinkle chopped parsley and fennel fronds evenly in cavity.
Brush outside of fish on both sides with the cooled, reserved oil. Let fish rest on counter while you prepare grill.
Create two cooking zones in your charcoal grill (one for direct and one for indirect heat) by placing all of the coals on one side, leaving the other side empty. Light coals and let burn to white embers.
Place fish on hot side of grill and let it cook undisturbed until skin is lightly charred and releases easily from grill, about 8-10 minutes. With a set of extra-long thongs, carefully flip fish over, keeping it on hot side of grill and allowing it to lightly char on this side, another 8-10 minutes.
Using thongs, rotate grill rack so fish is over cool half of grill. Place lemon halves on hot half (and any other veg you want to grill for sides). Close lid and leave fish undisturbed until cooked through, another 10-15 minutes. Check by making a slit in thickest part of fish (near backbone) – knife should feel warm to the the touch and flesh should be opaque.
Remove from grill and place on platter. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Peel back skin and gently remove portions from bones, serving with juices from platter spooned over top and a good squeeze of grilled lemon.