Zak arrived fresh from the store on Sunday morning as I was wrapping up some homework bearing some chicken wings for the football game and a whole red snapper for me to cook up for dinner. I love surprise ingredients (hence my love of the CSA model), and after my success with whole grilled barramundi was excited to try a different application for whole fish. I decided to roast the whole fish in the oven, encased in tinfoil to seal in flavor. I created a light, Asian-themed marinade with hints of sweetness, lemongrass, citrus, and spice. The sweet, mild flesh of the snapper was imparted with a gentle array of flavors but not overpowered by either the sweetness or spice. Because it was baked in a steam-tight foil packet, the snapper remained moist and tender. I particularly love the heat that was imparted from the habanero – in the future, I would probably double up on it to add a really fire-y bite, but I thought the balance was pretty good here. I’ve become a huge fan of cooking whole fish as it is so much easier and less intimidating that I imagined, and can’t wait to try it again.
Oven-Baked Spicy Whole Red Snapper
1 1 1/4 lb. whole red snapper, gutted and scales removed
2 tbs. canola oil
1 tbs. soy sauce
1 very hot chile, such as a habanero, finely minced
1 tbs. sliced lemongrass
1 tbs. ground ginger
1 tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced (reserve remaining half for squeezing)
1/2 orange, thinly sliced (reserve remaining half for squeezing)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 400°.
Cut about three slices per side of the fish on a slight diagonal through but not to the bone.
Mix together canola oil, soy sauce, hot chile, sliced lemongrass, ground ginger, ground coriander, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Brush mixture all over the fish, both inside and outside the cavity. Stuff about half of the lemon slices and the garlic inside the cavity.
Place fish on a large sheet of tinfoil. Lay remaining lemon slices over the top of the fish. Create a tinfoil packet around the fish, being sure to tightly crimp all of the edges. Place on a baking sheet and let marinate 30 minutes.
Transfer to oven and oast about 30-35 minutes, turning over once, until flesh is just opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Temperature should read about 145°. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately with sections of lemon and orange for squeezing. Pour any sauce remaining in the foil packet over the fish.