Food & Drink

I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!

Food is NOT just fuel!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Question from a reader: Whole Fish

Do you have any ideas on how to cook a whole fish and what kind works good? Thanks , sir.

Great question, thanks for asking. There are a number of ways to cook a whole fish. I'll tell you a couple of my favorites:

  • Stuffed & grilled (or baked) - I often do this with trout. Make sure the fish is gutted and scaled, and the cavity is open and clean (head on or off, that's up to you). Sprinkle in some salt & pepper, and then stuff the cavity with aromatics. I often use lemon slices and whole rosemary sprigs. Sprinkle a baking sheet with a good amount of coarse salt and place the fish onto the sheet (the salt will keep the skin of the fish from sticking) - sprinkle the top with salt & pepper and bake at 350 degrees for MAYBE 15 minutes - trout cooks VERY fast. If you're grilling (my favorite way to cook this) you need a fish basket. Stuff the trout as suggested, coat the basket in a touch of oil and secure the fish inside. I would turn it halfway through cooking over the fire. If the skin was properly scaled, it's delicious to eat - especially in the grilled version (it often gets crispy).
  • Baked in salt – this works well for whole fish and for whole chicken. I would still stuff the cavity with some aromatics. Then layer some lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the fish on top of the lemon, and then pour 3 – 5 pounds of salt over top (depends on the size of the fish). If you mix a little water with the salt before pouring it over, it sticks together a little better. Press the salt together and completely seal the fish inside. Baking depends on the fish (size, etc.) so I would look up the best baking time for whatever fish you’re using. When done, you crack open the salt shell and remove the fish. And as much as you might think the fish is salty – it isn’t.
  • This is kind of a cheat, but I wanted to mention it. It’s not for a whole fish – but if you take one huge filet of a large fish (such as a Salmon), this is my favorite way to cook it. Sprinkle some coarse salt on a shallow baking dish and lay the salmon on top. Sprinkle some salt, pepper & olive oil over the flesh of the fish. Chop up some capers and dill, and rub that into the fish all over. Place under the broiler until the center of the salmon is cooked to perfection.
Hope this helps! Happy eating!


  1. So....I have dill, I have capers, I do not have salmon. I do, however, have copious amounts of white bass and walleye fillets in my freezer. Do you think this would work with that kind of fish?

    I'm going to have to try baking a chicken or some some fish in salt. It sounds fun. Any particular kind of salt I would need?


  2. Oohh - bass or walleye would be great. In place of capers you could just use lemon juice. As for the salt, I don't think it matters. Although coarse & kosher would probably be best. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Chris, this was really good, easy and fast! I chopped the dill and capers, threw the walleye under the broiler and it was done in minutes. It was nice because I actually had all the things I needed to make it, except for the salmon, lol. I'm happy because now I have a new way to make fish! Thanks!