Whole baking fish is one of the most underrated ways to cook fish. Not only are you able to pack the fish full of flavours, but by cooking your fish with the bones and flesh intact, you are left with the most moist and succulent meat you can imagine. Plus, there is little to no wastage with cooking a fish whole, which is a major tick for sustainability.
For those that have never ventured down this path here are some tips to get you started.
The gills have to go
When you gut the fish, pull out the gills too. If you're not sure how to do this, jump onto Youtube and check out the many videos that will give you a rundown. If you want to get REALLY fancy with your whole baking, you can check out tutorials on how to butterfly fish.
Size doesn't matter
If your fish is too large for the baking tray, cut it in half or sections and cook on multiple trays. You can freeze the other half and save it for another time.
Scaling is a preference
If you like to eat crispy skin, then by all means, scale your fish. However, if you know you're not going to be devouring any skin and you're going to peel it off to get to the flesh, then don't bother with scaling.
Pack it full of flavour
There are no rules when it comes to filling the cavity of your fish. You can get as creative as you like with flavour combos, but if you are just starting out then keep it simple. Season the inside of your fish with salt and a little olive oil, then layer in some garlic, fresh herbs, citrus and maybe even some deseeded tomato.
Cook on a high heat
The beauty of fish is that it doesn't take too long to cook. Whether it's an open fire, BBQ or oven, cooking at a high temperature is always a must for whole baking. Between 200 - 220°C is a great place to start.
Pro tip: You'll know when the fish is cooked when a spine from the dorsal fin can be easily pulled out.
Keep the leftovers
Baking a whole fish can yield a LOT of flesh. Keep every little bit, and use it for other dishes. Pies, pastas, salads or burgers are a great way to use up these leftovers.
Check out some of our other whole fish recipes, and comment below with your favourite way to enjoy fish whole.