From Head to Tail
Try roasting whole fish for a tasty, low-fuss meal.
If you like fish that's moist, succulent, and unbelievably easy,roasting whole is the way to go. It not only makes an impressivepresentation, but also requires almost no prep work-especially ifyou ask a fishmonger to help. (Request a fish that's cleaned andscaled, with no gills or fins.) Then just add aromatics such assliced lemons or fresh herbs and you'll have a meal that'sflavorful from the inside out.
Catch of the Day
The availability of whole fish varies from coast to coast. Ifyou live in the Pacific Northwest you can easily find whole wildsalmon, whereas snapper is probably more prevalent in the Southeastand trout in the Northeast. Other common catches include bass,pompano, tilapia, and rockfish. Look for whole fish at seafoodmarkets, specialty stores, or even supermarkets and membershipwarehouses.
• Choose fresh-smelling fish with shiny skin and firmflesh. Eyes should be clear, bright, and bulging.
• A whole fish can serve one to six people. Plan on aboutone pound per person.
• Fish should be cleaned, trimmed of fins, rinsed, andpatted dry.
• Whole fish in the 1- to 2-pound range fit most bakingpans. For 3- to 4-pound fish, use a roasting pan at least 18 incheslong. If needed, lay the fish diagonally in the pan to gain a fewextra inches of space. The head and tail can overhang slightly aslong as the fish can lie somewhat flat to ensure even cooking.
• Cover the pan loosely with foil to ensure maximummoistness. Or roast uncovered to produce a crisp exterior andtender flesh with concentrated flavor.
• A whole fish is done when the eyes have turned white andthe flesh flakes easily with a fork. Figure on 15 minutes ofcooking time for the first pound, plus five to 10 minutes for eachadditional pound.