Grilled Whole Branzino with Avocado Mango Salad.
[This post is sponsored by The Home Depot! I am so so excited to be partnering with them through the rest of 2019 to share amazing grilling recipes with you, using the new Weber Genesis II E315 grill! To start, you’re going to LOVE this grilled whole fish.]
Hello hello! How do I even begin to tell you how much I love this grilled branzino?
Oh my gosh. To say I am wild about this recipe would be an understatement. This meal. This method! I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you and show you how we have been loving this branzino and how easy (!!!) it is to make at home.
But first! I am so excited to be partnering with The Home Depot for all of 2019 to share some of the most incredible recipes using the Weber Genesis II E315 Grill. We have made some amazing recipes so far (think grilled broccoli salad (it’s coming!) and grilled shishito peppers and tons of grilled pizza, of course!) and I’m going to share how we utilize our grill the entire year, especially come Fall and Winter.
Grilling is essential to my cooking because it adds so.much.flavor. I mean, especially when it comes to vegetables – that’s exactly what I need. Otherwise I find myself covering them in copious amounts of cheese and, well… you know how that ends.
The smoky flavor that a grill adds to some of my favorite foods is a game changer.
A few things about this beauty:
The Weber Genesis II E315 Grill is brand new (!!!) from Weber and The Home Depot. It’s super sleek! The Home Depot offers free delivery on all gills AND free assembly on grills purchased in the store (hello, thank you!), so it’s super simple to get one up and running.
I’m obsessed with this one because it’s SO easy to use.
That’s an obvious must for me. And it as a ton of grill space.
So! To kick off grilling season, I wanted to go a little outside of our comfort zone and show you how we grill a WHOLE fish.
Yep. The whole darn thing. Grilled whole fish is going down.
If you’ve ordered a whole fish dish in a restaurant, you know how incredible it is. But. It can be quite intimidating, right? To make that at home by yourself? Definitely a challenge if you’re unfamiliar with the preparation. I wanted to show you that if I can do it, you can definitely do it. And grilling is a fantastic way to start because by grilling the whole fish, it says super juicy and flavorful.
We eat fish fairly often, at least once a week. You probably know this because I’m a broken record.
I love it; I could probably eat it every day. Eddie enjoys it too (except for salmon… whomp whomp), and the issue that I come across the most is finding fish that is fresh and of course, caught and sold in a sustainable fashion. (p.s. Here in Pittsburgh, we have some great options for that – my go-to’s are Wholey’s, Penn Ave Fish Company and even Whole Foods.)
While I am very confident in cooking almost anything, the first time I considered cooking a whole fish, it freaked me out. We eat it so often though and lately, I’ve been getting my salmon from Butcher Box and it has a ton of pin bones. We are talking a ton – like all of them.
And that’s fine, I know how to remove the pin bones and I am diligent in doing so because Emilia also really loves salmon. But since I was already doing that, I figured I could easily cook a whole fish.
I could definitely do it!
The thing is that I shouldn’t have been THAT freaked out about grilling a whole fish for the first time. I’ve mentioned about a million times over the last decade how I watched my dad catch fish in Northern Michigan, and then we’d actually watch him clean it and cook it too.
Here is my most important suggestion, and what I do:
Ask your fishmonger for all their tips when you’re purchasing your whole fish. Ask them to clean it out too, which I ALWAYS have them do. And have them remove the scales. That is a huge help, and while a few scales usually remain, it takes a ton of time off your hands.
And if you tell them you’re going to GRILL the whole fish, they may have some ideas for you.
This is the simplest, most flavorful way to prepare branzino, which is the fish I chose. I also grilled a red snapper while at it, and it’s DELISH. All the details are below! Fresh lemon, salt, pepper, garlic, herbs – these are the perfect ingredients you need to complement the fish.
While serving a whole fish straight off the grill is a gorgeous presentation, I needed to know how to remove the bones from the fish since I wanted to serve this to my kids. I followed this exact method from serious eats for carving and serving the whole fish and it worked great. I recommend purchasing a pair of kitchen tweezers to have on hand if you like to eat fish frequently. This can grab any extra pin bones!
Now that I’m rambled on about grilled whole fish forever, I have to tell you that this is the butteriest (it’s a word), most flavorful fish I have EVER had.
The extra effort is worth it.
And it’s sort of like roasting a whole chicken – once you do it a few times, it gets so much easier. I promise. You’re freaked at first and then after the third time you do it, you’re like I can do this every single day. I would never steer you wrong.
Oh oh and one more thing. For serving, I love to add lemon wedges on the side. This is how we’ve eaten fish since I was a kid, it’s how my dad would serve it. It’s ridiculously fresh and flavorful. But in case you want to make this more of a meal, this simple avocado mango salad is downright delish. It’s so easy to throw together and has loads of flavor.
And it’s the prettiest!
Grilled Whole Fish with Avocado Mango Salad
- 2 whole fish, such as branzino, about 1 pound each
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for spritzing
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 6 garlic cloves
- 4 whole lemons
- a bunch of fresh thyme
- fresh herbs for serving, like cilantro and mint
- kitchen twine
- 2 avocados, chopped
- 1 mango, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and sliced
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- juice of 1 whole lime
Important!! Bring your fish out of the fridge 15 to 20 minutes before grilling. This helps the fish to not stick to the grill.
Preheat your grill grates on medium to high heat for at least 20 minutes.
Drizzle the inside of each fish with olive oil, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Stuff each with the slices of one whole lemon, garlic cloves and fresh thyme. Use a piece of kitchen twine to secure the fish together. This helps the stuffing stay inside the fish on the grill, especially when flipping it. Spray the outside of the fish with olive oil or avocado oil – or another high-heat oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Gently place the fish on the grill. Grill for 7 to 8 minutes, then carefully flip the fish over using tongs or a grill spatula. Grill for 7 to 8 minutes more. You want the inside of the fish to be opaque and the outside skin to be crisp. In the meantime, slice the remaining lemons in half and place them cut-side down on the grill. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes.
Note: for the red snapper in the photos, I stuffed it with the same ingredients and used the same method! I added about 5 minutes cook time per side because it was much larger.
You can serve the whole fish exactly as is or you can follow these instructions on carving the whole fish. Serve with the lemons for spritzing, the avocado mango salad and fresh herbs, like cilantro and mint. Devour!
Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve immediately!
Definitely going to be our go-to spring meal.