Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Whole Fish

Foodgoat recently ventured where he had not gone before:  he bought and cooked a whole fish.

In the past, he had always bought fish fillets, as most home cooks do.  Whole fish are not always readily available at grocery stores, and Foodgoat also just didn't know how to best cook them whole.

But there are some excellent reasons to buy fish whole.  You can see if the fish is what they say it is, and not some other cheap fish species sneakily substituted in..  You can see if the fish is really fresh (look for clear, bright eyes, clean with no residue, firm, red gills, and a clean fresh smell).

But the best reason?  Fish cooked whole tasted tastes far better than fish cooked just as a fillet.  As in roasting a whole chicken, cooking a fish with the head, tail, skin and bones intact keeps more of the juices in, intensifying the fish's natural flavor.  You also notice that each part of the fish tastes slightly different, since each part has different muscles. 

So, after years of thinking, "One day I should cook a whole fish," a few weeks ago Foodgoat just went ahead and did it.   He picked up a whole red snapper at the West Side Market, where they also cleaned it up for him. 

Pretty, isn't it?

Foodgoat called up his brother, who a few years ago had grilled us a delicious whole red snapper they had caught fishing in Florida, for cooking advice.  Preparation was simple:  stuff with lemon slices and herbs.  Here, he used thyme.  Score the fish deeply. 

Next, Foodgoat put that fish on a hot, hot grill. 

It was done pretty quickly, and when it was done, it was still quite pretty.  Even GoatSpawn was eager to start eating!

The result was a big success with everyone (including GoatSpawn) - the fish was tender, moist, and delicious. One red snapper was enough to satisfy the three of us.  It was easy and fun to cook too - so I foresee a lot more whole fish in our future. 

Of course, by the very end it didn't look quite so pretty anymore. 

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