• 4 Ratings

Cooking small whole fish, as opposed to fillets, optimizes flavor and juiciness, because the skin and a thin layer of (healthy) fat insulate the meat -- and it couldn't be easier. Mild, white-fleshed branzino is almost tailor-made for the technique: It has relatively few bones and they're simple to remove, so the fish is very easy to serve and eat.



Ingredient Checklist
Dill & Lemon Filling
Basil, Lime & Chile Filling


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat grill for direct-heat grilling over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, drizzle cavity of each fish with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then season generously with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

  • Aromatics help keep whole fish moist while grilling. Stuff 1 fish cavity with lemon slices and dill and the other with lime slices, basil, and Thai chiles. If using just 1 filling, double amounts called for.

  • Fasten each opening with a wooden skewer or toothpicks that have been soaked in water so they don't burn. This keeps the aromatics inside and also makes fish easier to handle on the grill.

  • Using a paring knife, make long, 1/4-inch-deep diagonal slashes at 2-inch intervals on both sides of fish so they cook evenly throughout. This also allows any seasonings on skin (see step 5) to penetrate.

  • Rub both sides of each fish with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper, working all into slashes as well as heads and tails -- both are edible, and the tail becomes delightfully crisp when grilled.

  • Brush hot grill with vegetable oil; immediately place fish on grill. Cook, undisturbed and uncovered, until undersides are charred and flesh along gills on undersides turns opaque, 5 to 7 minutes.

  • Turn fish with 2 large spatulas. If they stick, wait a few seconds until skin sears enough to release cleanly. Grill on other side until charred and fish are just cooked through and opaque, 5 to 7 minutes more.

  • Serve fish with lemon and lime wedges and more herbs. To serve, cut fillet free from top side of fish and remove with a spatula. Remove bones to free other fillet.

Cook's Notes

Our grilling technique works with any small fish, such as striped bass or trout, so buy what looks and smells the freshest.


4 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 2
  • 4 star values: 1
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0