Cooking a whole fish can seem daunting but think about the oohs and aahs when one comes to the table in a restaurant. Can you see yourself – bathed in a candlelight glow – stepping into the spotlight to take your bows? We can. And we are here to chef you up! A whole fish is an impressive presentation and it can be so simple, especially armed with this flavor bomb we call oo’mämē.
Your fish monger can hook you up with a beautiful whole fish. Depending on where you live, you might find snapper (we love that!), bass or trout. All are good choices. Look for plump, firm flesh with clear eyes and clean gills that are bright red. The skin will be a shiny metallic. If you can get close enough, smell for a briny, clean smell. Your purveyor will likely sell it scaled, gutted, and cleaned. If not, ask for that. Keeping the skin and bones intact will keep the fish moist and promote even cooking. Then, easily lift out the bones in one piece.
Roasted Snapper + oo’mämē Marinade
oo’mämē Chinese or Mexican Chile Infusion
Whole fish such as snapper, bass, or trout, about 3 pounds
6 leeks, trimmed and split lengthwise, well-rinsed
1 – 2 lemons, sliced
Kosher salt and pepper
2 fresh bay leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine, optional
Preheat the oven to 425oF. Let the fish come to room temperature.
Lay leeks and lemon slices in the bottom of a shallow roasting plan.
Prepare the fish: Score the fish with three diagonal incisions about 1/2” deep (stop short of cutting through to the bones) on both sides of the fish. Season the inside of the fish cavity with Kosher salt and pepper. Arrange 4 - 5 lemon slices and the bay leaves inside the fish.
Position the fish on the bed of leeks. Spoon oo’mämē Chinese or Mexican Chile Infusion over the fish. Turn the fish over and spoon on the other side. Pour the white wine, if using, around the fish and over the leeks.
Bake fish for 30 – 40 minutes, or 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Peek inside and make sure the interior is no longer translucent. An instant read thermometer in the thickest part will register 135oF.
Remove from oven and let the fish rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the leeks. Prepare to be praised!
Serves about 3 people per pound.