The technique sounds a bit intimidating, but it’s actually easy to master: Look for a black sea bass that’s big enough to feed two. Rub it all over with Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, herbs and tangerine zest.
Then cook it quickly on a hot grill. It’s so spicy and awesome and satisfying, you could easily cook this dish for steak enthusiasts.
The key to success is picking a fresh fish, preparing it for a deep infusion of flavor and getting it off the grill without a mess. Here’s everything you need for perfect whole fish cookery.
For the Grilled Fish
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling basket
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced green garlic (or regular garlic)
1 teaspoon minced fresh savory
1 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram or oregano
1 teaspoon tangerine or orange zest
1½ pounds black sea bass, scaled and cleaned
Salt, to taste
For the Cucumber and Cilantro Salad
1 cup thinly peeled, sliced cucumber
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
1 Thai chile, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
Salt, to taste
- Step 1
Make the grilled fish: Put fish on a cutting board and cut three ¼-inch-deep slits into both sides of the fish. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, savory and marjoram. Using your hands, rub the herb oil and tangerine zest all over the fish and inside the cavity. Transfer fish to the refrigerator to marinate for 20 minutes.
- Step 2
Meanwhile, prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium-hot grilling. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and season with salt. Transfer to a grill basket that has been brushed with olive oil.
- Step 3
Grill the fish, flipping once, until the skin is crispy and the fish is cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove the fish from the grill basket and transfer to a large platter.
- Step 4
Make the cucumber and cilantro salad: In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, cilantro, scallions, Thai chile, vinegar, lime juice, ginger and sesame oil. Season with salt and toss. Place the salad around the fish and serve immediately.