Barbecue Grilled Whole Red Snapper

greeceThere is nothing like ordering fresh fish at a sea side tavern in Greece. It’s one of the quintessential experiences when visiting the Greek Isles. My friend Rich Campbell, who has uncanny knack for finding incredible places to eat, introduced me to a wonderful spot in Oia on Santorini called Taverna Katina in the quaint Ammoudi Port.

It’s simple, casual dining at its best. Mrs Katina oversees everything and beams with pride as guests enjoy her authentic Greek dishes. If you visit, be sure to try her tomatokeftedes (tomato balls) – a house specialty.

They offer the freshest fish, which you can choose from the display case inside the restaurant. We opted for local snapper - served whole with simple lemon and olive oil dressing on the side - and it was some of the best I’ve ever had.

If a trip to Greece isn’t in your near future, you can grill fresh snapper in your own backyard. Grilling a whole fish (head and all) delivers a richer, deeper flavor than grilling boneless fillets. If your fish are a little larger (between 1 1/2 and 2 pounds), simply grill them a minute or two longer on each side.

Barbecue Grilled Whole Red Snapper With Citrus Vinaigrette

grilledfish2 whole red snappers (about 1 1/2 pounds each), scaled, gutted, and skin slashed on both sides
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Greek)
Vegetable oil for cooking grate

Citrus Vinaigrette:
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1. Whisk oil, juices, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper together in medium bowl. Whisk in oregano and parsley; set aside and serve with fish.

2. Heat grill with all burners set to high and lid down until very hot, about 15 minutes. Use grill brush to scrape cooking grate clean. Leave all burners on high.

3. Rub fish with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper on outside as well as inside of each fish.

4. Lightly dip small wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe grill rack. Place fish on grill. Grill, covered, until side of fish facing charcoal is browned and crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. Gently turn fish over using two spatulas and cook until flesh is no longer translucent at center and skin on both sides of each fish is blistered and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes more. (To check for doneness, peek into slashed flesh or into interior through opened bottom area of each fish to see that flesh is no longer translucent.) Use two metal spatulas to transfer fish to platter and serve with citrus vinaigrette.

Filleting Grilled Whole Fish:

1. Using sharp knife, make vertical cut just behind head from top of fish to belly. Make another cut along top of fish from head to tail.

2. Use spatula to lift meat from bones, starting at head end and running spatula over bones to lift out fillet. Repeat on other side of fish. Discard head and skeleton.


James Moore has been a cooking enthusiast since childhood and started blogging as a way to share favorite recipes with friends and family. His site, Cook Like James has grown to include restaurants, cookbooks, wines, and favorite places.