Learn How To Cook Whole Roasted Fish. Fish tastes even better when cooked on the bone. It’s delicious, easy to cook and SO good for us, so why is so much of it going to waste?
It may be because many of us don’t know what to do with it when we get it home.
A report from Time Magazine tells us that HALF of all edible seafood caught in the U.S goes to waste. Partially because of industry inefficiencies but also due in large part to consumers wasting the product.
I’m going to give you a few tips and recipes to get fish in your belly. Let’s start with small whole pan roasted fish like those pictured above. I may have mentioned a time or two before that my dad does a lot of recreational fishing. He brings home a variety of fish like crappie ( yes, that’s really what it’s called) and pike, some these fish are relatively small so you can fit a few whole ones in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. You may not see these often in stores but you can use whole fish of similar size like trout which are more easily found.
If you find a larger fish like branzino (pictured above) or red snapper and it’s too big for your skillet you can use a roasting pan to cook your fish.
When picking whole fish in the market look for plump fish with shiny eyes, those are good signs of freshness. The fish shouldn’t have a strong, bad odor, it should just smell a little…well, fishy. The fish guy/lady at the market will remove the scales and clean out the inside of the fish before you bring it home. Just rinse the fish and pat it dry inside and out before seasoning and cooking.
You can pan fry the fish naked (The fish is naked…not you, keep your pants on for goodness sake. Naked meaning without coating the fish in flour or other kind of starch) and keep the seasoning simple, just salt and pepper, thyme and lemon slices. You can add herbs and lemon slices to the center cavity. Rub the outside of the fish with a high heat cooking oil like canola or grapeseed oil and cook over medium/high heat . Fish of this size cook quickly, about seven minutes total per inch of fish. An instant read thermometer is your friend in the kitchen, cook the fish to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also check doneness by gently pressing on the skin. The flesh underneath should give way.
If you want a crunchy crust, dust the seasoned fish in all purpose flour, potato starch, corn starch, Wondra flour (Wondra is a blend of wheat flour and malted barley flour that has been processed to make it dissolve easily in liquids, It’s great for making a crispy crust) or cornmeal after seasoning. Then shallow pan-fry in 1/4 cup of olive oil for 3-4 minutes per side, you can pop a thicker fish into the oven to finish cooking. Make a sauce if you like by adding cherry tomatoes, capers, diced shallots, white wine and olives to the pan.
Top your whole roasted fish with the sauce, sprinkle on some lemon zest and parsley and you’re good to go! I left the sauce off of one of the branzino because the Hubs doesn’t care for capers and olives. If you’re serving company you can certainly serve the tomatoes in a bowl on the side and let everyone spoon it on for themselves.
To carve a fish and serve it, make a slice close to the tail and another slice just below the head. Then run a sharp knife along the back of the fish above the fish’s spine and lift the filet off of the filet.
Whole Roasted Branzino (or other small to medium sized fish) With Cherry Tomato and Olive sauce
- 2 Branzino about 1 and 1/2 pounds each
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil
- 2 cups whole cherry tomatoes I used a mix of cherry, grape and pear tomatoes
- 2 shallots diced
- 1/2 cup pitted chopped Kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 lemon zest finely minced, you will need 2 tablespoons of it's juice
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Have your fish cleaned at the fish counter. Ask them to leave the head on
- Rinse and pat dry your fish. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt because the capers and olives are salty
- Add oil to your pan and heat over medium high heat
- Carefully add the fish into the pan and cook on each side for 4-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish
- Remove the fish from the pan and place on a platter, then make your sauce
- Add the cherry tomatoes to the hot pan
- Stir and add shallots, olives and capers
- Add lemon juice and white wine and simmer for 3-4 minutes
- Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve with some bread if you like
How To Cook Whole Roasted Fish