A grill basket is an excellent way to cook whole small fish. It is easy to turn and the flesh doesn't stick to the barbecue. Cook it until the eye turns white and the flesh at the centre of the bone is slightly pink. The fish will continue to cook after it is removed from the grill. Do not cook until the fish flakes or it will be overcooked by the time you serve it.
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Use orata, striped bass, barramundi, snapper or any whole fish you like. But buy it from a good fishmonger where you know you are getting the freshest fish. You can grill a slightly larger fish and serve one between two people, but one small whole fish per person makes a better presentation.
4 500-gram (1 pound) whole fishes of choice
½ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh chervil (or other favourite herb)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup melted butter
Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil
Rinse fish. Brush oil onto fish, both on skin and in cavity. Stuff fresh chervil into cavity. Season skin with salt and pepper.
Preheat grill to medium high, making sure the grill is very clean. This helps prevent the fish from sticking. Brush grill with oil before placing fish on it. Grill about 6 minutes for the first side. Fish should turn easily at this point. Roll it over using two implements. Grill second side until flesh is opaque and moist, and it just comes away from the bone, about 6 minutes depending on thickness of fish.
Make a little slash behind the gill to check.
Place on platter and cut off the heads if the sight bothers you. Remove basil. Serve one whole fish per person. Place on serving plates and drizzle with lemon juice and butter. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and pepper, and chopped chervil.