Recipe: Perfectly Simple Grilled Whole Fish
This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.
When we were living in New York City, we didn’t cook a lot of fish at home. The main reason being that we never felt sure we were getting the full story—was it fresh? Sustainably caught? How far did it travel? Do we even know enough to ask the right questions? It’s hard to feel like there’s full transparency around seafood, even at some of the city’s carefully curated greenmarkets.
But now we have Austin Banach and Wes Malzone! Around the time Jake was hired at the Co-op, so was our friend and fellow Monument High School grad, Austin. Austin is a fish and cheese monger who is just as passionate about his craft, and issues of sustainability and the local food economy, as we are. Luckily for us, he fills his case every week with bounty from Wes.
Wes grew up in Scituate, Massachusetts, a prominent fishing community, and now lives in Northampton, running BerkShore. Twice a week he drives to Scituate and picks up fish from the dock, just caught by guys he grew up with. He then drives the fish back to the Berkshires and delivers it to the Co-op and other lucky local restaurants and markets. On the days that Wes drops his fish off at the Co-op, we almost always take advantage. And now that the weather is cooperating, we’ve become totally obsessed with grilling his beautiful product whole.
This week, Austin had some gorgeous black sea bass in his case, and we couldn’t resist. After getting the grill going, we went out to the herb garden and pulled some tarragon and parsley out from under the serious weeds that have settled there. Next — easy as one, two, three — we stuffed the cavity of the fish with the herbs and lemon, sprinkled some salt on both sides of the fish, drizzled a little olive oil on top and tossed it on the grill. After four minutes on each side, we were sitting on the porch eating a stunning, fresh and flavorful meal.
Perfectly Simple Grilled Whole Fish
1 whole fish, scaled and gutted. (Right now we like black sea bass and porgy.)
handful fresh herbs (tarragon, parley, cilantro, chervil and dill are all good)
1 lemon, slice one half, leave the other half intact
1. Stuff the cavity of the fish with the herbs and the lemon slices.
2. Coat it with salt and drizzle a little olive oil on it.
3. Put it directly on the grill and cook for 4 minutes, than flip with a large spatula and cook for another four minutes.
4. Take off the grill and let rest for a few minutes. Before serving squeeze some lemon on it.