Recipe: Branzino, the Ultimate Grilled Fish
"Cooking on the grill imparts a delicious smoky flavor to the fish," Chef Stone says about this fantastic whole round branzino recipe. "Serve these beauties on a platter in the center of the table with this simple sesame-soy sauce and grill some green beans to go alongside."
Whole Grilled Branzino with Soy-Ginger Sauce
- 2 1-to 1¼-lb whole branzino, scaled, gutted, and fins removed (ask your fishmonger to do this)
- 3 thumb-size pieces fresh ginger, peeled, 1 thinly sliced, 2 finely chopped
- 4 scallions, trimmed, 1 cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces, 3 thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, 1 crushed and halved, 2 finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus whole leaves for garnish
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1½ tsp toasted sesame oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Jasmine Rice
- Prepare a grill for medium-high heat.
- Using a large sharp knife, cut 3 diagonal slits into both sides of each fish (this will allow the flavors of the marinade to penetrate the flesh). Divide the sliced ginger, scallion pieces, halved garlic, and chopped cilantro between the cavities of the fish. Put the fish on a platter or tray.
- In a medium bowl, mix the chopped ginger, two-thirds of the sliced scallions, the chopped garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Season with pepper. Spoon ½ tbsp of the marinade over both sides of each fish and marinate the fish for 5 minutes. Reserve the remaining marinade to serve as the sauce.
- Oil the grill grates. Place the fish on the grill, close the lid, and cook for about 4 minutes per side, or until the flesh is firm, white, and flaky but still moist and juicy and the skin is crisp. Transfer the fish to two platters.
- Garnish with the remaining sliced scallions and the cilantro leaves. Serve with the rice and the reserved sauce, allowing everyone at the table to serve themselves from the platters.
It's easy to flip a whole fish on the grill, but if you're a little leery about it, you can use a fish grill basket; it eliminates all the worry. Just lightly oil the grill basket, place the fish in the basket, and close it. Oil the grill grates, place the basket on the grates, and cook the fish as directed.
To fillet the cooked branzino, make a cut behind the head, cutting through to the backbone. Make a second incision just before the tail. Run the tip of a sharp knife along the backbone and down to the spine, gently removing the top fillet off the spine. Holding the tail, lift the spine and head off the bottom fillet.