Why does this simple recipe—just fish, salt, pepper, and fire—so often fail?
Grilling a whole fish produces a plethora of problems: skin stuck fast to the grill, blotchy and burned patches, and unevenly cooked or crumbly, messy fish.
We wanted crisp skin striped with dark char marks and moist meat imbued with the heady scent of wood smoke.
The first step was to choose the right fish; red snapper and striped bass are widely available and reasonably sized, and their mild flesh absorbs smoky flavor well. Size is important; fish much over 1 1/2 pounds produced burned skin by the time they cook through. Grill heat was the next challenge; we found that using a medium-hot fire produced great-tasting fish but torn skin. Slashing the skin not only kept it intact, but also allowed the fish to cook faster and more evenly—and it was easier to gauge the doneness of each side. For final insurance against torn skin, we found that using two thin metal spatulas to flip the fish allowed us to roll it over safely. For seasoning, we liked just salt and pepper, as well as a sauce to go on the side.list of recipes