Grilled Whole Fish with Lemon Emulsion

Photo: Rob Tannenbaum

In Greece, Mediterranean sea bass is known as "lavraki," and is considered a prized fish in Europe. Try this flavorful recipe from chef Jim Botsacos of Molyvos restaurant for your own Greek feast.


  • 6 (1 ¼-pound) whole Mediterranean sea bass, cleaned and gutted

  • Olive oil

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

  • Dry Greek oregano, for garnish

  • Lemon Emulsion


  1. Preheat a grill pan or grill to medium heat.

  2. Working with one fish at a time, use a sharp boning knife, to make a slight incision at the top of the dorsal fin just below the head. Continue making a slight incision, pushing the knife against the bone all the way down the spine and stopping just above the tail. The head and tail should remain intact. Turn fish over and repeat process on opposite side.

  3. Lay each fish parallel and make an incision from the top base of the head, scoring right down behind the gill. Repeat process on tail end. Turn fish and repeat on opposite side.

  4. Brush fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper outside and inside the cavity. Lay fish inside a grilling basket and close. Place in basket or place fish, skin-side down, on grill and cook, moving occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until skin is charred and crispy and flesh is opaque, 10 to 12 minutes more.

  5. Serve whole, garnished with chives and oregano and served with emulsion, or serve filleted by removing head and tail and reserve to use with fish. Using a thin knife, remove the rear of the dorsal fin, starting from where the base of the head was all the way to the tail, and place the knife at the base where the head was, lifting up the center bone. Once fish is opened, remove center bone using the knife or a small fork, remove bones from where the ribs would be, one at a time. Check to make sure all bones are removed.

  6. Arrange fish opened and butterflied on serving plate, drizzled with emulsion and garnished with chives and oregano. Place head and tail at either end of the fish to give the appearance of a whole fish.

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