Roasting is my favorite way to cook whole fish. Intimidating at first, but you couldn't ask for an easier prep/cleanup for such a show stopping presentation. Whether you want to wow guests, get a better bang for your buck, or want join in on the zero food waste movement and use the bones and head to make a stock for your next fish chowder; roasting a whole fish has benefits over just pan frying a fillet. Not every fish is conducive to whole roasting, but we do have a couple of options here at the shop and one of those this week is, Red Snapper. Using herbs, garlic and capers you'll create an aromatic bright flavor that will pair nicely with this slightly sweet, slightly nutty mild fish.
Whole Red Snapper
Salt & Pepper
Start by patting your fish dry, and do 3 shallow slash marks on each side of your fish. Salt and pepper the outside (and the inside, don't forget this part).
Next you'll want to make a paste of garlic, capers, herbs. Chop finely; drained and rinsed capers, leafy herbs such as parsley, basil, dill, or cilantro (stick to one herb, or mix it up, follow your heart) and garlic. Add into a small bowl with olive oil and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Let these flavors meld together for about 5 minutes. Line a cookie sheet or baking dish with a piece of parchment paper or tin foil.
Now, you'll want to smoosh (this is a technical term) the herb mixture into each of the shallow slash marks that you have created on your Red Snapper. Each side needs some, so make sure to split it up evenly.
Then add some thinly sliced lemon on top the herb stuffed slash makes and stuff the belly with any remaining lemon pieces and add a nice drizzle of your favorite cooking oil over top. Another small sprinkle of salt and pepper and it's ready for the oven.
Quick note on roasting temps: It seems counter intuitive to crank your oven so high, but when roasting whole fish you want to go hot, anywhere from 400-500 degrees farenheit. I typically roast at 420F. Though I've come across recipes that go up to 500. If you plan to go hotter, don't leave your oven. Keep a close eye on all the ingredients cooking. You'll always want to be mindful of the other ingredients, in this case the herbs and lemon. Those likely won't hold up to 500 degrees, so stay on the lower end of that range. The benefit of cooking at these hotter temps is the caramelization that happens with the skin, and it releases flavor from the bones into the meat.
You'll roast the fish until internal temp reaches 135, which will take about 20-35 minutes depending on the size of the fish. Bone-in helps to protect some overcooking so going a touch longer won't hurt.
Once it's done and you've plated the fish give a really good squeeze of lemon directly over top. Fish and lemon are always friends, not matter which fish you choose to bring home from your local seafood shop!
Serve with rice, potatoes or roasted broccoli!