It turns out the easiest part of making a whole fish is prepping and roasting it. The tricky part is finding a fish that doesn't come with a whole lot of environmental baggage. It seems like the lists and apps telling us which fish to buy and which fish to snub are always shifting.
At the moment, there's one type of fish that is fairly easy to find, moderately affordable, and won't do too much damage to your karma: Branzino. This is the fish I used this week when we fired up the grill to kick off Memorial Day weekend.
This recipe is incredibly simple and will work with any whole fish (just adjust the cooking temperature for smaller or larger fish). Just promise me you'll choose your fish wisely. To stay on top of the latest in seafood sustainability, use one of the online guides from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Blue Ocean Institute, or the Natural Resources Defense Council and make an informed choice but know that these lists often shift.
Whole Grilled Branzino
2 whole Branzino, cleaned (about 1 pound each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced into 1/4"-thick rounds
Prepare your grill (or grill pan) for medium-high heat. Drizzle the olive oil over the skin of both fish. Season the inside of each fish with half the salt and pepper. Place a few lemon slices inside each fish. Grill the fish about five minutes per side, until the skin is crisp and the flesh is opaque.
Serve with extra lemon slices.