Barbecued Whole Fish with Garlic and Herb Butter

, from Issue #33. September, 2015
Photography by Manja Wachsmuth.
Barbecued Whole Fish with Garlic and Herb Butter

This recipe will work using one large fish, but the cooking time will be considerably longer. A metal fish grill basket makes for easy cooking and turning of a larger fish. Whichever size you choose, ask the fishmonger to scale and fillet the fish, but leave the skin on.

Serves: 4


4 x 500-600 gram whole, firm white fish, such as tarakihi, prepared as above
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
¼ cup chopped soft herbs, such as mint and flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, crushed
finely grated zest 1 lemon
pinch chilli flakes
1 spring onion, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

To cook
kitchen string
olive oil
4 bay leaves


Combine the butter with the other ingredients and season.

Pin-bone the fish by running your fingers down the fillet to gently lift the bones up, just as you would when removing the bones from a piece of salmon. Using tweezers, remove the bones by pulling them towards the head not the tail of the fish so you don’t tear the flesh.

Season the flesh side of the fish and spread one side of 4 fillets with butter. Don’t worry about getting the butter on perfectly, as it will melt over the fish when cooking.

Place the other 4 fillets, flesh side down, on top and tie each parcel of two fillets together with kitchen string, tucking a bay leaf under the string.

Rub the skin with olive oil and season. Cook on a lightly greased, preheated barbecue or grill plate for 5-8 minutes each side. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish. Don’t try and turn the fish until a good crust has formed, otherwise the flesh will lift off leaving the crispy skin behind.

Transfer to plates and serve with lemon wedges, warm crusty bread for mopping up the juices and the Eggplant and Zucchini Salad with Coriander and Yoghurt Dressing