The Grille at Morrison House and Jackson 20 Executive Chef Dennis Marron's whole grilled fish. Serves three-to-four people.
The first step in whole fish cooking is choosing your fish. I like local and sustainable fish (Blue Fish and Rockfish are some of my favorites) that range from 2-6 pounds, depending on how many people you are cooking for. When you purchase the fish, ask your fishmonger to be sure the fish is descaled and gutted. Once home, wash the fish and remove any remaining scales. Cut slits vertically towards the head as this ensures even cooking since the tail is thinner. Slits should go about 3/4 of the way to the bone. This will help the fish cook evenly.
Next, you want to oil your fish. This is for flavor and to prevent the fish from sticking to the grill. Rub the fish inside and out with a moderate amount of oil.
Season your fish with salt and pepper. I like to use white pepper on fish. White pepper matches the flavor profile of lighter flesh fish. Salt and pepper the inside and outside of the fish. Go easy on the pepper on the outside of the fish, though, it should be 3-to-1 salt to pepper.
Stuff the cavity of the fish with lemon slices, bay leaves, fresh herbs (I like rosemary and thyme) and whole crushed garlic cloves.
Preheat your grill. I prefer using a charcoal grill. Let your coals burn to a nice amber glow before grilling.
While your grill is preheating, allow your fish to marinate in the refrigerator.
Grill your fish for approximately 10 to 15 minutes on each side. Try to turn your fish only once.
Don’t be worried if your fish sticks and you loose a little skin -- it happens.
Serve your fish with a nice salad, some grilled marinated artichokes, a pinch of sea salt, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.