This was a first for me. I have cooked fish on the BBQ before. Salt Block Cod, which was rather unsuccessful, and Scallops in their shells, but I have never cooked a whole fish. To be honest I just didn’t really think that I would like it. No good reason. Not sure what I imagined would be wrong with it but it was about time that just gave it a chance. So… whilst doing some shopping for that weeks meals I picked up a whole Sea Bass. Nothing huge but hopefully a great introduction to cooking whole fish on the BBQ.
First of all I did a little prep. The fish was already gutted, leaving a nice little space for some stuffing. I sliced one lemon, an onion and a few cloves of smoked garlic. Stuffed all of that into the cavity and found a little extra room for some parsley.
I also had some cod loin pieces to cook. My 6 year old daughter and fiancee aren’t really keen on eating the whole fish. Apparently the eyes are ‘creepy’? Those required no preparation at all except for a little seasoning and a few extra slices of lemon. The cod would be cooked on a bed of lemon to stop the underside burning and add a citrus kick to the fish.
The cod was placed onto the barbecue first to start the cooking process. These had to be cooked with the lid down to make sure they cooked through properly. Although the cod pieces weren’t particularly large I knew that they would take a little longer to cook. Just because I couldn’t flip them over to grill both sides. At least not without them falling to pieces. Once the cod had almost cooked I could place the sea bass onto the grill. Because I had never cooked whole fish on the BBQ before I decided to ask for some advice. I had a few suggestions from various members of the CountryWoodSmoke Facebook group but decided to follow the advice of BBQ Bill. I would consider Bill an authority on all things BBQ but especially cooking fish on the BBQ. I decided to cook the sea bass direct over hot coals for 4 minutes each side. This should give a nice crispy skin to the fish whilst retaining the soft tender meat on the inside.
After cooking on both sides for 4 minutes I quickly checked that the fish had reached the minimum required temperature before serving immediately. Immediately after I had taken a few photographs that is.
I was actually very happy with how this turned out. The skin wasn’t fantastic. I think it may have been slightly crisp in places. The fish inside however was absolutely brilliant. Probably some of the most flavoursome, tender and succulent fish I have had. Perhaps cooking the fish whole helps protect the meat from overcooking whilst simultaneously retaining the juices within. I will definitely be cooking whole fish on the BBQ more often that’s for certain.
If any of you have some suggestions for my next whole fish. I’m ok with my meat cuts but with regards to the best fish to cook on the BBQ I’m clueless.
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Written by Tomos Newland-Jones @MrNewland66