Cooking fish can be intimidating – many people don’t have the first clue how to prepare it. However, as Sébastien Noël of paleoleap.com explains, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. “Grilling or baking a whole fish isn’t very hard once you’ve done it once,” Noël says. “Cooking the fish with the bones will make it taste better, and whole fish are cheaper, fresher and easier to buy wild-caught.” That means they’ll contain higher levels of important omega 3s, so it’s win-win. Noël explains how to cook them like a pro.
No catch cooking
“The best fish to cook whole are salmon and trout. They naturally have a lot of fat and will be more forgiving if you overcook them a bit. Sea bass is another good choice. All the gutting, scaling and removing gills should be handled by your fishmonger.”
“Put the fish in a snug-fitting dish so the cooking juices can stay around the fish while it’s cooking. Interesting flavours can be built by putting vegetables and herbs under the fish and inside the cavity while cooking. Think lemon slices, fennel, garlic, onion, parsley, carrots, thyme and rosemary.”
Take your time
“A good rule is to be delicate in the cooking process, so you want to go longer and slower. The recipe below is for grilled trout, but if you wanted to bake it instead, you could put it in an oven at 200˚C/gas 6 for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the flesh falls off the bone.”
Perfect Trout Recipe
- 1 whole trout, scaled, gutted and cleaned
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
- 2 lemons, one sliced and the other halved, a little zest removed
- Salt and pepper
- Butter or coconut oil
- Preheat your grill to 200˚C.
- Slash the sides of your fish about eight times on each side with a knife so that the butter or oil can make its way in. Rub the trout with butter or oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Stuff the cavity (the hole created when the fish is cleaned) with the parsley, dill and lemon slices.
- Put the fish on a baking rack on top of a pan. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the fish and add generous knobs of butter – if you’re using it – to form a golden crust. Put the lemon halves on the baking tray.
- Grill about 15cm away from the heat source for about six minutes on each side. Squeeze the grilled lemons on the fish before serving.