A slightly sweet fish with hints of nuttiness, red snapper is versatile, able to adapt to a variety of bold flavor profiles, from Asian to Mediterranean, as well as the smokiness imparted from grilling. Red snapper is best grilled whole or with the skin left on to protect the delicate meat from the rigors of cooking over open flame. Have your fishmonger prepare whole red snapper for you by having it gutted and the scales and gills removed, or cut into several skin-on fillets.
Things You'll Need
- Sharp knife
- Olive or canola oil
- Marinade (optional)
- Seasonings (optional)
Cut long, diagonal slashes every 3 inches or so on both sides of the red snapper. The cuts should slice through almost to the bone as this will help the fish cook evenly.
Drizzle and rub in enough olive or canola oil to completely coat the fish’s exterior. Apply a generous sprinkling of salt to both the inside and outside of the fish. If you like, you could also coat the fish in a marinade, such as an Asian hoisin sauce, or use additional seasonings, such as thyme, allspice and crushed red pepper.
Preheat your grill, bringing it to a medium heat. Liberally oil the grill grates with olive or canola oil to prevent the fish from sticking. If you like, you can nestle the fish into a well-oiled grill basket to help keep the fish intact while it grills.
Set the fish onto the grill grates, making sure to place the tail end the farthest away from the heat, as it requires less cooking time. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Flip the fish by sliding a spatula under each end and gently turning it over. Or, if you’re using a grill basket, use the handle to flip the entire basket onto the other side. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
Prod the slashes cut into the sides of the fish; if the fish appears opaque and moist, it’s done. Carefully remove the fish from the grill and serve with a side of grilled vegetables or atop a bed of herbed rice pilaf.
Prepare a marinade for your red snapper fillets and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour or 2 before cooking. This will help keep the fillets moist while they cook. Try creating a simple white wine marinade seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, or try a bright, citrusy marinade made of equal parts lemon and lime juice. Add the red snapper fillets to a resealable plastic bag, cover in the marinade and refrigerate until ready to grill.
Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat. Oil the grill grates with olive or canola oil. Remove the fillets from the bag, dabbing each fillet with a paper towel to remove any excess marinade. Drizzle the fillets with a small amount of olive or canola oil and rub to coat evenly. This will help prevent the fish from sticking while it cooks.
Place the fillets onto the oiled grill grates, skin side down. Or, if you like, place the fillets into a well-oiled grill basket and set on the grill. Cover and cook for approximately 4 minutes, though actual cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish. A general rule for cooking fish is to measure the flesh at its thickest point and cook for 8 to 10 minutes per inch, 4 to 5 minutes per half-inch.
Flip the fillets, carefully, using a spatula. Or, if you’re using a grill basket, use the handle to flip the entire basket onto the other side. Continue cooking for another 4 minutes, or longer, depending on the thickness of the fish.
Test the done-ness of the fish by prodding the flesh with a fork. If the fillet flakes easily and its juices appear milky white, the fish is done. Remove the fillets from the grill and serve with grilled lemon wedges.
- Food and Wine: Grilled Whole Red Snapper
- Fish & Shellfish, Grilled & Smoked: 300 Flavor-Filled Recipes, Plus Really Good Sauces, Marinades, Rubs, and Sides; Karen Adler and Judith Fertig