Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grilled Whole Red Tilapia and Striped Bass

this is a beautiful fish. once again i have found another reason to drive all the way to my favorite Chinese market, 99 Ranch. the fish selection is so outstanding, always fresh, whole, live and/or filleted..and when you buy it whole they will clean it for you while you wait. i never even knew there was a RED Tilapia. grilled whole and stuffed with lemon, tarragon and garlic i found this unbelievably meaty, moist and so clean..beautiful white flesh. alas, i have no photo of the finished product because i am new to grilling whole fish and sorry to say this one didn't turn out so pretty in the looks department, but the flavors well made up for the loss in visual. next time i will be a little more generous with oiling the's called GRILLING 101.


i guess this is a typical grilling fish. as i googled around for ideas on whole fish, this is the one that most often came up. not sure why being that there are so many others to chose from. the bass was quite good and did hold up well to the grill. it's a little slimmer than the Tilapia and makes for a nice presentation. nothing really WOW about this fish...just a nice white fish that takes on flavors well. i stuffed this one with lemon, thyme and garlic.

don't be afraid of the whole fish...

the presentation can be excellent if your game. the bummer i find hard to deal with is the tiny little "no-see-um" bones. just when you think you've got the prefect bone!... i know there is a skill to eating whole fish, but i have yet to conquer this seemingly difficult technique, although it won't keep me from trying. the flavor and moisture from cooking whole with all it's fatty omegas and those pesky bones really seems to make a difference.

Grilling Whole Fish

chose your fish wisely. trust your fish monger. i have found a few important things to look for when buying whole fish...
VISUAL...should look like it just flopped out of the water onto the ice.
the eyes should be clear not cloudy or marred.
the gills should be a nice fresh dark red and separate easily.
SMELL...if you question it at all, ask to inspect the fish and give it a good smell...if you smell ANYTHING don't buy it.
when you get your fish home inspect the inside and wash/cut out any bits that got left behind and dry it completely.
i found a great tutorial at for the next few steps found here
follow these easy step by step instructions or at least read through it for some good info.
choose some good flavors for your stuffing. there are so many possibilities. some nice fresh herbs and a few lemon slices is always quick and simple. i chose to sew my fish closed with a needle and cooking string, but it's not necessary if you handle your fish with care.

in conclusion...
oiling the grill is most important
don't forget to salt and pepper the inside
AND slash the fattest part of the fish on the outside for even cooking
learning how to serve the whole fish is equally important.
here are a few helpful sites to check out.
How to eat a whole fish #1
How to eat a whole fish #2


Anonymous said...

My problem is that I cannot find tilapia that is from the US. All of it is imported from china and I WILL NOT eat anything imported from china.

Anonymous said...

Although there is no u.s. tilapia, you can find product from ecuador or malaysia that is much more sustainable....

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