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Steve Johnson grills a bluefish at Rendezvous. Her prefers grilling whole fish to fillets because the bones add flavor to the flesh. (T.S. Amarasiriwardena/Globe Staff)

Grilled whole bluefish with cucumber relish

Serves 6

Make the relish a couple of hours before you cook the fish so the flavors have a chance to mellow. Sambal is a mixture of chilies that adds heat to the dish.


2 1/2 pounds cucumbers (8 Armenian or 4 regular)
1teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sambal
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1. Peel the cucumbers, halve them lengthwise, and use a small spoon to seed them. Slice the cucumbers thinly and transfer to a bowl, layering the cucumber with salt; cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. In another bowl, combine the onions, lime juice, sugar, sambal, a pinch of salt, and fish sauce; cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the cucumbers to the onion mixture. Add the cilantro and mint. Stir gently. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like; set aside.


1 whole bluefish (about 6 pounds), cleaned with head and tail intact
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat a charcoal grill. Clean the grill thoroughly with a wire brush. Rub the rack with oil.

2. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet.

3. Just before grilling, rub the fish all over with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set one side on the grill and cook for 8 minutes, without moving the fish. The skin should release easily when gently prodded with a long metal spatula. Turn the fish and continue cooking for 8 minutes more.

4. Transfer the fish to the baking sheet and set in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes more or until the fish is opaque at the bone (use the tip of a paring knife to peek).

5. With the paring knife, cut around the top of the fish. Holding the knife parallel to the table, slide the knife between the top fillet and the bone. Use a wide metal spatula to lift off the top fillet and transfer it to a platter. Holding the tail end, lift off the center bone. Transfer the bottom fillet to the platter.

6. Spoon the cucumber salad over the fish. Adapted from Steve Johnson Notes: