Magazine article Sunset

The Case for Grilling Whole Fish: Fish Tastes Better on the Bone Than off, and It's Easy to Do-Especially If You Follow Las Vegas Chef Rick Moonen's Lead

Magazine article Sunset

The Case for Grilling Whole Fish: Fish Tastes Better on the Bone Than off, and It's Easy to Do-Especially If You Follow Las Vegas Chef Rick Moonen's Lead

Article excerpt

GRILLING THE MOONEN WAY Tips from the owner of RM Seafood and author of Fish Without a Doudt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

1 Heat grill to suit the size of the fish

Cook large fish, like the ones shown here, over medium heat (350 [degrees] to 450 [degrees]), so you don't burn the skin before the center is done. Small fish, such as sardines and anchovies, cook through faster and can be grilled over high heat (450 [degrees] to 550 [degrees]).

2 Oil the grill

To keep your fish from sticking, liberally oil the grill basket (if you're using one) and the cooking grates with oiled paper towels beforehand. Oil the fish itself too--unless you're coating it with an oil-based sauce or a flavored mayo.

3 Prep the fish

Rinse it and pat it dry, then cut a few slashes into its sides, parallel to the gills. This helps the flavorings seep into the flesh and speeds the grilling of the thickest parts, so that the fish will cook evenly.

4 Cook fish (with care) until done

Cook the fish about 10 minutes for every inch of thickness (small, thin fish like anchovies may take only 2 to 3 minutes), and never use tongs to turn it; a large spatula, or two, is much more gentle. (Even better, use a grill basket.) Flip the fish only once--turning more often can rip its flesh.

5 Practice and be patient

Start with small to medium fish (less than 1 lb.) until you build confidence; then try going big. Ideally, the skin shouldn't tear, but even if it does, your fish will still taste fine--it just won't look as pretty.

Whole grilled sea bass with chimichurri sauce
SERVES 4 TO 6 | 40 MINUTES, PLUS 30 MINUTES TO 1 HOUR TO MARINATE

2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 to 2 tbsp. pepper
1 tsp. red chile flakes Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 bunch each flat-leaf parsley and cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole, cleaned, and scaled striped bass (about 2 lbs.)

1. Blend garlic with salt in a mortar with a pestle to make a thick
paste. Add pepper, chile flakes, and lemon juice and zest, mixing
to blend. Stir in herbs. Drizzle in oil, whisking, until mixture
becomes a loose pesto. Makes about 1 cup sauce.

2. Prep fish (see page 98); rub inside and out with 1/4 cup sauce.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let marinate at least 30 minutes
and not more than 1 hour. Grill fish (see page 98) and serve extra
sauce on the side. … 
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