Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Roasted Whole Fish

Over the weekend, I somehow got it into my head that I should know how to buy and roast a whole fish. I've always been one of those people who have an unreasonable fear of fish faces. I love ordering whole branzino at restaurants but blanch as soon as the waiter brings out the plate, head still firmly attached. At that point, despite all attempts to put on a brave face, I usually shudder and ask that the kitchen debone it for me, resolutely avoiding eye contact with my dinner the whole time. Pretty lame. 

And so, I decided to put a definitive end to the matter and face my fear head on (literally and figuratively). I walked over to the New Amsterdam market at the South Street Seaport and scooped up a gleaming medium-sized porgy from Gabe the Fish Babe (an awesome fishmonger who provides super fresh fish for restaurants like Roberta’s, Allswell, Buttermilk Channel, Roman’s, and Rucola) for all of $4, carried it home packed in ice, and set about reading up on Gwyneth Paltrow's tips on roasting whole fish. To my surprise, once I got over the initial paranoia that the fish was somehow still alive and would immediately bite my arm off as soon as I touched it, preparing it was incredibly easy and the finished product was so tasty that every last bite was polished off within minutes. Although, I probably apologized to the fish upwards of 27 times while I was stuffing it. Out loud.

Baby steps. xo

Whole Roasted Fish
Serves 4
1 very fresh whole fish, whatever is good, fresh, and preferably local (at least 2 pounds), scaled and gutted
1 tablespoon each fresh tarragon, basil, chives, and parsley
1 lemon, cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut 4 or 5 slits on each side of the fish, about 1/2 inch into the flesh. Combine the herbs and roughly chop them. Stuff each opening with a slice of lemon and a little bit of the herb mixture. Put any remaining herbs and lemon slices into the cavity of the fish. Lay the fish in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper and salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the fish is firm but still moist.

To serve, gently spoon the top fillet off the bone. You can then easily peel the spine off in one piece from the bottom half. 


  1. Can't wait to try this! It looks delicious!

  2. I didn’t expect to be so delicious, but fish and garlic goes so good together so I added very little. Whenever I want to impress people I cooked this. Never in a million years I would think that fish and basil can be mixed