If learning how to cook a whole roasted fish is not on your culinary bucket list, add it now! This is one of the easiest dishes to make and it checks all of the boxes being healthy, fast and crazy delicious. And trust me, if you are intimidated by just looking at the photo below I get it, but I am here to tell you not to fear! I was once in your shoes, but I built up the courage to create this and now it is one of my go to meals. In fact, I love this so much, this is my second blog post about this dish! It is that good. And remember, fish are friends AND food.
When standing at the seafood counter at the grocery store looking at all of the fish options, people tend to intentionally skip over those scary whole fishes just staring at you from behind the glass. I get it, the thought of presenting a large whole roasted fish with their head and tail still attached to the dinner table can seem intimidating, yet somehow visually thrilling at the same time. However, I am here to tell you there is no reason to steer clear from these little guys as these fish are friends and also make for great food!
The one thing, I truly love about this dish is that it brings people together in its purest and fanciest form. Just imagine you and your family or friends gathered around what is the main attraction scooping out its flaky, juicy and fatty flesh from its skeleton. You almost don't feel human consuming it this way and it takes people out of their comfort zones.
Roasting a whole fish in the oven is beyond easy. It is just as easy and just like roasting a salmon filet in the oven, think of it that way. Only difference is when roasting a salmon filet, it is just the filet, there is no head, tail or skeleton attached. The cooking process is not the only thing that makes this so easy to make. This fish is so flavorful on it’s own, you only need a few simple fresh ingredients to dress it up and give it that “wow” factor. Olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, onion and fresh herbs. That’s it! It is truly impossible to mess this up. Especially with my tips below!
I have been consuming roasted or fried whole fishes for as long as I can remember. Growing up, every so often my mom would feed us what is known as “Milkfish” or in Tagalog: Daing na Bangus. This fish is a milkfish that has been marinated in vinegar, peppercorns, garlic and salt. It typically gets marinated over night and when ready to cook, it gets fried. My mom would present this whole fish in the middle of the table and honestly, we would have no choice but to eat it. So, over the years I grew to love eating fish this way. We would all pick our favorite parts from it and consume it like savages, but in the classiest way possible.
Since I grew to love eating them, I wanted to learn how to cook them myself. After a few tries, I finally have a go to recipe that I love. I love the striped bass specifically because when it gets cooked the meat is so white, flaky, tender and juicy. It almost compares to the milkfish I ate while growing up. So, after some practice I now have tips and tricks to help you learn too and impress the heck out of your family and friends this holiday!
A Few Tips, Tricks and the Whole Shebang on Buying and Roasting a Whole Fish:
Look and Smell: Make sure that the fishes eyes are clear and not cloudy and in addition, make sure that it has a fresh fish smell. It of course will smell like fish, but you want to make sure it does not have A foul fish smell, it should smell like fresh water fish.
Cleaning, Gutting, Scaling: Nicely ask the store associate assisting you to scale, gut and rinse your fish + remove the fins. That way it is prepared and ready for you when you get home. All you need to do is season, stuff and bake.
Cutting Slits in the Fish: When you are ready to prepare your fish. Make sure to start by cut slits along the back on both sides, I like to cut them deep enough so you can stuff some of the extra herbs and lemons in there. It give the fish extra flavoring throughout.
Heavily Salt: You might think that rubbing an excessive amount of salt over the entire fish but be too much and make it too salty. But, I can assure you that it will not be too salty and this is the time where you want to heavily rub salt all over the fish. Heavily salt all sides + inside and out of your fish.
Stuffing The Fish: I highly recommend using fresh herbs, lemon slices and lemon wheels. Stuff the heck out of this fish and make sure to stuff the insides of it with as much lemons and herbs as you can and also try and fit as many in the slits you cut in the fish. That way there is even flavoring throughout.
Basting the Fish: Make an olive oil base and infuse it with red pepper flakes and garlic. You could honestly do whatever seasonings you would like. But, regardless, I like infusing whatever seasonings I am using in the oil and then basting the entire fish in that mixture.
Baking with Tomatoes and Onions: I like to bake fresh tomatoes and onions on the same pan as the fish because all of the juices and aromas will get cooked together and it gives the fish some extra flavoring, plus they make for great garnishes.
Now, you’re all set! I hope my tips and tricks helped you build the courage to cross this off of your culinary bucket list and impress your loved ones this holiday season! Tag @prettyplatebymichelle or #prettyplatebymichelle on instagram if you try this out and conquerd your fears. I would love to see it and give you a virtual high five!
Serves 4, INGREDIENTS: For the Whole Roasted Striped Bass
1 whole striped bass, scaled and cleaned out (NOTE: This is important. They will do this at the store for you, make sure to ask them to do this if they do not mention it)
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP Minced Garlic
1 Lemon, cut in wheels
1 -2 Cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 of a yellow onion, cut in half moons
1-2 TSP red pepper flakes (Depending on how spicy you like it)
Pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
Bunches of fresh dill
Bunches of fresh thyme
Bunches of fresh cilantro (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 425 Degrees, line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Prepare your roasted onions and tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes into half and place in a bowl, season with salt and set aside. Slice your onion in half moons, season with salt and set aside.
Using the Pink himalayan salt, rub the entire fish from head to tail and top and bottom on both sides with salt.
Using a sharp knife, cut 2-3 slits along the top/back of the fish on both sides.
While you let the fish soak in all of the saltiness through its skin, in a separate bowl mix together the olive oil, red pepper flakes and minced garlic. Baste all of the insides and outsides of the fish with the olive oil mixture.
Begin stuffing the insides of the fish as well as the slits you cut at the top with the lemon wheels, minced garlic, fresh dill sprigs, fresh thyme sprigs and optional cilantro leaves.
Transfer Fish to prepared baking sheet. Spread out your cut onions and tomatoes around the fish on the same baking sheet.
Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. When done, remove from heat and transfer fish, onions, lemon slices, herbs and onions to your serving platter of choice. Serve immediately. NOTE: be careful when consuming, there are fish bones in this whole roasted fish!
Serves 4, INGREDIENTS: For the Nicoise Garlic Green Bean Salad
1 12 oz. bag green beans, boiled in salt water for 6 minutes
4 hard boiled eggs cut in quarters
1 shallot, cooked in olive oil and salt and pepper for 5-7 minutes or until caramelized and tender
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
INGREDIENTS: For the Garlic Dijon Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
2 TBSP minced garlic
2 TBSP coarse dijon
1 TBSP capers
1 TBSP maple syrup
1/2 TSP salt
1/4 TSP black pepper
In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the garlic diJon dressing. When done, transfer to your serving bottle of choice and place in the fridge to cool.
Heat a pot of salted water over medium to high heat. When boiling add your green beans and boil for 6 minutes. When done, drain and run under cold water to cool and stop the cooking process (You can also blanch in an ice bath as well).
Cut your hard boiled eggs in quarters, place on a plate and set aside.
Wash and cut your grape tomatoes in half and place in another bowl and set aside.
Thinly slice your shallot. When done, heat a pan over medium heat and add 1-2 TBSP olive oil. When hot, add your sliced shallots and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Cook and caramelize for about 5-7 minutes. When done, remove from heat and let cool.
To assemble the salad, place your green beans, tomatoes, shallots and eggs in a bowl. Pour your dressing over and mix well. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for 30 minutes to let cool if desired.
PRETTY PLATE KITCHEN ITEMS USED: