This weeks theme – fish – wouldn’t be complete without a post on how to grill or bake a whole fish. At first, I was extremely intimidated by this preparation, but it actually is easy and simple! It is very easy to learn how to grill a whole fish. Most of your time will be spent mixing the ingredients for the sauce. Once you put the fish on the grill/ in the oven – you just let it do its thing and leave it alone!
Thai flavors, like fish sauce and lime, are great for summer because they are salty, a touch sweet, tangy and refreshing. This list of ingredients may seem like a challenge – but once you have purchased, they can hang out in the pantry for a decent amount of time. If you can’t find tamarind – substitute with molasses and a little extra lime juice. Tamarind paste can also be used in pad thai and baking- so it has more than one use!
Suggested Sides: Simple salad, brown rice
Thai-Inspired Whole Grilled Fish
Ingredients (2 servings)
- 2 medium-sized whole fish, cleaned (trout, snapper, red fish)
- 4Tbsp Thai fish sauce for marinade
- 3 Tbsp sherry
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup coriander stems and leaves
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp chili sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp tamarind paste (optional)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
Rinse the fish and pat it completely dry. Place fish on cutting surface and make 4 small diagonal slits on the fish (not cutting through, just the surface), then flip and make 4 more small slits on the fish. This is done to allow the marinade to get into the fish.
Put fish in glass baking dish and cover the fish with 2 tablespoons fish sauce, flip and cover the other side with remaining fish sauce. Let sit for 10 minutes.
While fish is marinading, make sauce. In a large saucepan, put the remaining ingredients (except cornstarch-water) and cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 6 to 7 minutes, or until smooth.
Turn heat down to low. Mix the cornstarch-water combination in a separate bowl, then whisk slowly into sauce. Continue whisking over low heat until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat.
Taste and adjust for flavors as desired; cover saucepan to keep warm.
To grill fish: Lightly oil your grill grates. Heat your grill to high. Place fish on grill. Cook for at least 5 to 6 minutes – do not attempt to move the fish before that time as it will be stuck and the skin will stick to the grill. You’ll know when it’s time to turn the fish because it will come loose with no effort.
Flip the fish using large spatulas or tongs, cooking on the second side for at least 5 to 6 minutes again.
Check to see if fish is flaking and white by inserting a fork and pushing some flesh aside. Depending on the thickness of the fish you’re grilling, your cooking time will vary.
To serve fish: Remove fish to a serving platter or two plates, and pour the warm sauce over the top carefully. Garnish the plates with a little more coriander, cucumber slices, and grape tomatoes.
Image: flickr user Pen Waggener, licensed by Creative Commons