The City Magazine Since 1975

Grilled Whole Fish with Salsa Verde

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2 whole beeliner snappers (about 2 lbs. each), scaled and gutted

Flaky fleur de sel, such as Maldon or Carolina Flake Salt

Freshly cracked pepper

1/2 cup gremolata, recipe follows

1 large lemon cut in half

3 thinly sliced lemons

1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced

1 heaping cup thinly sliced sweet onion

2½ lbs. small potatoes, simmered in water until tender, then cooled and cut into wedges

1 cup pitted and sliced green picholine olives

1/4 cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil plus 2-3 Tbs. to drizzle on cooked fish

1 tsp. fennel pollen, available from

2 cups salsa verde, recipe follows

For the gremolata:

(Yields more than you need)

Chef’s Note: It also goes great with red meat and lamb.

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

4 cloves garlic

Zest and juice of 3 lemons

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or heavy-duty blender and puree until smooth. Tightly covered, the gremolata will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

For the salsa verde:

(Yields about 3 cups)

Chef’s Note: Use what’s leftover to drizzle on veggies, eggs, or meat.

20 sprigs flat-leaf parsley with stems

Leaves from 8 sprigs tarragon

Leaves from 10 short sprigs mint

Leaves from 12 sprigs basil

5 anchovies packed in oil, drained

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs. capers

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Zest of 4 lemons

1 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper


Prepare a very hot covered grill (preferably 500°F), but note that you’ll want to use indirect grilling, or have a cooler part of the grill for the fish. If using a gas grill, you can turn some of the burners down. With a charcoal grill, keep the hot coals on one side of the grill and place the fish over the other, cooler side.

Make diagonal cuts in the body of each fish through the skin down to the bone. Liberally season with fleur de sel and freshly cracked pepper. Rub the fish with gremolata.

Place half of a lemon in the cavity of each fish with the flat side of the lemon facing down. (This will enable you to prop the fish up so it will cook evenly on each side.) Place each fish in a shallow baking dish that has enough space for half of the vegetables. Place the dishes on cooler side of the grill and cover the grill.

Once the fish are on the grill, combine the sliced lemons, fennel, onions, potatoes, and olives in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss with one-fourth cup of olive oil. When the fish have been cooking for 15 minutes, spread half of this mixture around each fish.

The fish will take 25 to 30 minutes to cook. They will be done when the interior flesh is firm and the internal temperature measures about 155°F at the thickest spot. The onions and fennel should be tender.

When everything has finished cooking, place the vegetables on a platter. Remove the lemon halves from inside the fish and place the fish on top of the vegetables. Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves over the fish. Sprinkle a little fennel pollen over each fish. Season them lightly with fleur de sel and liberally drizzle on the remaining olive oil. Serve the salsa verde on the side.

Roughly chop the parsley and herbs. Working in batches if necessary, combine the anchovies, garlic, capers, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor or heavy-duty blender and puree until smooth. Add the parsley and herbs and puree again until smooth. Keeping the processor or blender on, slowly add the olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Tightly covered, the salsa verde will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

25 to 30 minutes