This recipe, written by the magazine’s food columnist, Jonathan Miles, appears in the September 2010 issue. We used red snapper for the photograph, but Miles said just about any fish–crappie, perch, bass, mackerel, salmon, etc.–will work with this recipe.
“You ever clean a redfish?” asks Donald Link, the chef and owner of the stellar Herbsaint and Cochon restaurants in New Orleans, explaining the origins of his technique for grill-roasting fish that he calls “fisherman’s style” or “fish on the half shell.” Redfish are tough to clean, with big scales, so Louisiana anglers, like Link, tend to forgo the scaling, throwing a “side” of fish onto the grill and roasting it from the bottom up. But the technique isn’t limited to redfish. Several years ago, at his family’s fish camp at Louisiana’s Toledo Bend Reservoir, Link conducted an experiment with some largemouth bass he’d caught. One fillet he cooked without the skin; another, skin on but scaled; and another, skin on and unscaled. “The difference in moisture was like night and day,” he says of the latter fillet, as compared with the first two. “The beauty of it is the simplicity. You can cook it outdoors, and you don’t even have to gut the fish. Just take off the side.” –Jonathan Miles
Six 7-oz. fillets of redfish (or other fish), skin and scales on, with pin bones removed
1/4 tsp. kosher salt for each fillet
Scant 1/4 tsp. black pepper for each fillet
Scant 1/4 tsp. crushed red chili flakes for each fillet
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
Two large lemons
1. Rinse the fish fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Place them on a baking sheet and season each with the salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Drizzle half of the olive oil over the fish. Use your fingers to distribute oil and seasonings evenly, then set aside to marinate while you heat the grill.
2. Fire up your grill to a medium-high setting. When the grill has reached the right temperature, place the fillets scale-side down on the hot grill and do not move. Cover the grill and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. (It will easily flake when tested with a paring knife.)
3. Using a metal spatula, transfer cooked fillets to serving plates and top with equal amounts of the sea salt, parsley, and remaining olive oil. Cut lemons in half and squeeze the juice (through a small strainer or cheesecloth) evenly over the fish. Serves 6