A whole fish, carefully grilled, makes for a tasty masterpiece that’s moist and delicious. Striped bass (an Atlantic coast fish that’s a cousin to many cottage-lake fish), trout, salmon, arctic char, and many others can be grilled whole, here enhanced with the taste of the Mediterranean in every bite. Vary the flavour with other herbs: thyme, lemon thyme, dill, rosemary, or sage, for instance.
- Two 1 1/2-lb (750 g) or one 3 1/2-lb (1.75 kg) whole striped bass, cleaned and scaled
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (60 ml)
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 6 sprigs fresh oregano or dried Greek rigani
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped oregano or flat-leaf parsley (30 ml)
- 1 lemon, sliced
Rinse fish inside and out under cold running water, drain, and pat dry. Make 3 or 4 parallel gashes on the diagonal through the flesh to the bone on each side of the whole fish at the thickest part. (This helps it cook evenly.)
Rub fish, inside and out, with half of lemon juice and about 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter oregano sprigs and bay leaves on top and tuck some in the fish cavity. Set aside, covered, while you prepare the fire.
Preheat grill to medium-high. Thoroughly clean grill grate and oil lightly, or preheat and oil a hinged fish grill basket. Place fish on hot grill, or in basket, and cook for 10 minutes, with lid up. Mix together remaining lemon juice and oil and use some to baste fish. When the skin on the underside is crisp and nicely browned and the flesh facing the coals is opaque, baste the fish lightly and turn over carefully using tongs and a large spatula. Continue grilling until fish is cooked through: about 15 minutes in total for small fish, up to 25 minutes for larger fish.
Lift fish carefully to a warm platter and discard herb sprigs and bay leaves. Brush fish with remaining lemon-oil mix, and season lightly. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and garnish with lemon slices. Serve immediately.