Archive for March 19th, 2012

Whole fish grilled over an open flame develops a crackled skin and concentrated moisture that is the essence of succulence. Unfortunately, the increased popularity of fish has not translated into an increase in the availability of whole fish. Almost everything you see is already filleted. This is a shame because the flesh of fish cooked whole has more flavor (from contact with the bone) and hangs on to its moisture better. If you don’t want to serve the fish with its head on, remove it after cooking. Slashing the flesh in its thicker parts will help the fish cook more evenly and gets any seasoning closer to the meat, where it does the most good.

TIMING
Prep: 5 minutes (plus 10 minutes for rub and butter)
Grill: About 15 minutes.

BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Long-handled fish spatula
– Grill screen or fish-grilling basket.

THE GRILL
Gas: Direct heat, medium (350°F)
Clean, oiled grate
Charcoal:
Direct heat, medium ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting
Wood:
Direct heat, medium ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 4 inches above the fire.

INGREDIENTS (MAKES 4 SERVINGS)
2 whole sea bass, about 1½ pounds each, gutted and cleaned
2 tablespoons Cumin Rub
2 tablespoons olive oil
Oil for coating grill grate and screen or basket
1/3 cup Lime-Cilantro Butter warmed.

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat the grill as directed.
2. Scrape the dull side of a knife against the skin of the fish, running from tail to head, to remove excess moisture and fine scales. Cut 3 or 4 diagonal slices through the flesh of the fish on each side down to the bone. Season the fish inside and out with the cumin rub, and rub the olive oil over the outside.
3. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Oil the grill screen or fish basket liberally and put the fish on the screen or in the basket; put it on the grill. Cover and cook until browned on both sides and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of one of the fish registers 130°F, about 15 minutes. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 375°F.
4. Serve the fish with the warm butter sauce.

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