Grilled Whole Fish

Whole grilled fish is one of the most delightful meals, especially on a hot summer day when you don’t want to do any cooking in the house, besides throwing together a quick salad to accompany the meal.  Grilling fish whole enhances its flavor and juiciness because the skin and a thin layer of fat beneath it are left intact; these serve to insulate the meat (muscle tissues? doesn't sound that great, but meat is not the right word either) during cooking.  Any whole fish will do, but you generally want it small, about 10 inches or so.  Our favorite is the mild, white-fleshed Mediterranean sea bass also called branzino or branzini.  It has relatively few bones which are simple to remove.  Make sure your fish is scaled and gutted prior to cooking.  I used fresh dill and parsley for seasoning; you may also try cilantro and basil.  Recipe adopted from Martha Stewart Living.

2 whole fish, cleaned, heads and tails intact
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh dill

1 lime, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh parsley 

Preheat grill to medium-high.  Drizzle cavity of each fish with olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Stuff one fish with lemon slices and dill, the other with lime slices and parsley.  Make long ¼ inch-deep diagonal slits on both sides of the fish to insure even cooking and to allow the seasonings to penetrate the fish.  Rub both sides with additional olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Brush hot grill with oil and place fish directly on the grill or you may also use a grilling basket, like we did.  Cook uncovered about 5 to 7 minutes.  Flip fish over and grill on the other side for another 5 to 7 minutes or until cooked through and opaque.  Serve fish with lemon and lime wedges, and a favorite salad for a light and oh-so-satisfying meal!