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How to cook a whole fish

Posted by Sheryl Julian  May 6, 2008 04:13 PM

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This photograph ran last summer in the Boston Globe. A reader emailed recently to ask about cooking whole fish. It couldn't be easier.

Have the fish gutted and scaled. These are branzino (Italian for sea bass), which is a popular restaurant fish. Each 1 1/2-pound fish yields about 3/4 pound of flesh (all fish loses at least half its weight in bones).

Set the fish in an oiled dish. Tuck lemon slices and rosemary into the cavities. Make several slashes on top of the fish and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Slide the fish as close to the broiler as you can get it until the skin begins to char, then move it about 12-inches away (or lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees) and continue cooking for 15 minutes. You'll see the fish in the slashes turn opaque and you'll know it's done. Add lots of lemon juice.

Some people remove the skin (I don't). You can use the flat of your knife to lift off the top fillet, leaving the head, tail, and center bone behind. Or just eat the flesh off the bone.

A tip I learned in England: When eating fish with bones, make sure you serve crusty bread or potatoes. If a tiny bone gets caught in your throat, you can push it down with either one.

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

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