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Whole Baked Fish – Snapper with Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce

30 mins Cook
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The easiest and best way to cook fish is to cook it whole. The dough is the juiciest, most tender and full of energy. Cooking fish this way is easy to eat throughout the week and also takes up a significant portion of the time! I used the whole fish today, but this recipe works with any fish.
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Whole Baked Fish – Snapper with Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce –NomNomWow

Whole Baked Fish

Ask any chef and he will tell you without hesitation that the easiest and best way to cook fish is to cook it whole. The meat is succulent and juicy, has no flakes and frills around it, and is super easy.

But for many people, the idea of ​​cooking a whole fish is daunting. Not only cooking, but also buying fish. Which fish is best cooked whole? How do you know it’s fresh enough? What to prepare for cooking?
The good news is that the answers to all these questions are very simple. I’ll cover them all in today’s post!

How to choose a fish to cook whole

The first step is to choose the right fish for cooking. 4 important points to consider:

  • Fresh fish
  • How to clean and prepare fish (from the fish store – or from you!)
  • How big is the fish, a method help
  • Fish species


It goes without saying that you should buy the freshest fish. One advantage of cooking whole fish is that it’s easier to keep fresh than a fillet! Here are some things to consider when choosing fresh fish:

  • Eyes – The eyes should be clear, not cloudy. The larger the fish, the more blurred the entire eye;
  • Gill Color – Gills should be bright red/orange, not brown. You must bring a mask to check;
  • fragrance – the most important thing for new.
    It should smell clean like the sea, not like fish; and
  • To the touch – it should be plump and firm to the touch. When you poke it, it springs back. If there are still dents, the fish is not very fresh.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask your fishmonger to pass the fish over the counter so you can check it yourself. Let them hold their gills to show you, let them kiss and feel you!
Fish is expensive and you have a right to know what you’re buying.


  • All fish should be gutted, exfoliated and cleaned before cooking. Not all fish sold in Australian markets are gutted or exfoliated. Ask the fisherman to do both of these for you. This is standard service in Australian fish markets. If you’re uncomfortable with the heads, you can remove them too!
    Evisceration – This is when the belly (bottom) of the fish is cut open and the stomach removed. Ideally, this should be done as soon as possible after catching the fish, although this is not the case for most fishermen. The reason is the rapid deterioration of the stomach of the fish and contamination of the body. So to all the fishermen out there, remember to cook your fish as soon as you catch it, don’t refrigerate it overnight;
  • descaling – this is the removal of scales from the fish. There are zoom tools that make this easy, but you can also use the back of a kitchen knife (eg.
    blunt side, not sharp side), brush quickly in the direction of the scales. These very hard and sticky scales will scatter everywhere – so let your fish do it!
  • Cleaning – It is the cleaning of the fish by removing it with a tissue or towel, chewing it and wiping it. Do not wash the fish in cold water, it will spoil the body! If you see a fisherman cleaning your fish, ask him not to wash your fish, but to wash it at home.
    Keep in mind that sometimes fishmongers will ask you if you want to “clean” your fish, although in fact it means they are descaled and gutted. So, absolutely!

Scale removal and gutting of fish is a standard service for fishermen and is included in the price of the fish. So always let them do it for you, even if they don’t ask for it first!4. BEST FISH FOR ROASTING


  • As a guide, about 400 grams (14 ounces) of whole fish is allowed per person. Depending on the type of fish, all fish contain between 40-50% meat (the rest is offal, bones, heads, etc.). This is equivalent to 160 – 200 g (5.5 – 6.6 oz) of fish meat per person, ie 40 – 50% meat yield based on total fish weight.
    So cautiously, for 800 g (1.3 lb) whole fish, this yields at least 800 g (1.3 lb) x 40% = 320 g (11 oz) fish meat. At least 160 g (5.5 ounces) for two people – a good serving.
    Fish of All Sizes for Grilling – Approximately 600g (1.2lb) to 2kg (4lb) fish is the right size for grilling. It’s small and doesn’t stay in the oven long enough to taste good on the skin, and it’s easier to overcook because it cooks faster. Much larger and you will have trouble cooking fish evenly (for example, the outside is done before the middle is cooked; and
  • fish – use 2 x 800g (1.5g) to make 4 more.
    3 lb) fish or 1 x 1.6 kg (3.2 lb) fish. If you’re grilling a lot of fish, choose fish that are close together so they can grill at the same time.


The fish in this recipe is crispy. Almost any type of fish is good for grilling, as long as it’s a good size.

For this recipe, especially if you’re new to grilling whole fish, I recommend following the round fish that looks like the perch pictured in this post. These fish have cylindrical bodies and swim upright (not back-swimming flatfish such as flounder, turbot and sole). Alternate the fillets so that they are thick and easy to cook.
I also agree that, at least for this recipe, the fillets are big and flat, like the fish in the picture. This is easier to harvest, better meat yield, easier to cook and serve. Flat-headed or torpedo-shaped fish like dory/ratchetfish or big-headed fish like rock cod will be a bit more difficult.

With that in mind, some fish that can be cooked whole are:

  • Snapper
  • Snapper / Dollar
  • Barramundi
  • Blue Cod 4 4 King 4 Blue-ey 4 (
  • Salmon (small)
  • Cod
  • Haddock fish
  • Sea bass/bass/bran
  • Cod
  • Tilapia


Avoid fish that dry out when cooked, for example:

  • Kingfish
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Skipjack
  • Swordfish

These fish are delicious but must be cooked properly.

What you need to bake a whole fish

All you need to grill whole fish is salt, pepper and olive oil. If you have good fish, the flavor and juiciness of the fish, all you need is a squeeze of fresh lemon!

But the fish’s jejunum cavity offers a good opportunity to add flavor by adding fresh spices. Today I use a classic mix of garlic, lemon, parsley and dill for grilled fish:

What you need for Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce

I chose a simple garlic and dill butter sauce that goes well with all grilled fish. You can’t miss this! Dill is probably the most commonly used herb along with fish. Its fresh, light anise flavor is a natural accompaniment to all seafood. See the images below for more information.
The ingredients needed to make Garlic Dill Butter Sauce are:


Here are some recipes:

  • Lemon Brown Butter (Beurre noisette)
  • Salsa Verde
  • Hollandaise
  • Creamy Mushroom Sauce
  • Romesco Sauce

How to roast fish in the oven

The minimum amount required to grill all fish is:

  • Make several cuts to help the meat cook evenly;
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

O. Everything you see below is a selection of additional steps! But if you have the time, they deserve better, tastier results.

Trim the fins (optional) – Use scissors to cut off the fins on the sides, top and bottom of the fish. Basically, everything except the tail. Shark fins tend to curl, burn and protrude when cooked, so this is for cleaning. It also makes it easy to eat so you don’t have to walk the pallets while removing the meat. But that doesn’t matter, that’s why I marked this step as very optional!
Cut the meat (required) – Make 3 diagonal cuts on each side of the fish. Cut the meat until it touches the middle spine. This helps the fish cook evenly and also gives us time to add seasoning to the meat;

Fish fillet (important for this recipe!) – the fish will have a removed cavity. Products in garlic, lemon and herbs.
This step is optional as I mentioned that you can cook the fish without color, but not optional for this particular recipe!

Tie the fish (optional) – the purpose of this step is to hold the fish together so that you can improve the flavor of the filling in the meat and create a better quality (prevents squeaking by cooking

Seasoned Fish (must be – Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper) sprinkle, don’t forget to rub the fish.Do this on both sides of the fish

Bake for 20 minutes or until the thickest part of the meat reaches 55°C / 131°F for medium, freshly cooked but never raw, juicy and moist Fish’s best heat to the thick part, do not protect the bones.
Alternatively, use a small knife on a slice of fish to gently pull some of the meat off the bone. If it peels off the unprotected bone, it’s okay.

Rest for 5 minutes. Like other proteins, this ensures the redistribution of fluid throughout the body. If you don’t rest, once you start getting into the meat, the juice will spread all over the place.
Internal Temperature Rise – As the fish rest, the internal temperature rises to 58°C / 136.5°F (this is the environment’s ultimate goal).

Garlic and Dill Butter Sauce (optional) – Serve as a sauce while grilling fish. As easy as melting the butter, roast the garlic for a minute until it’s fragrant, then add the dill at the last minute; and

Help! Keep the butter aside so you can spoon it over the fish before serving or let people eat it themselves.
How to fish? I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures of the way to carve and cook all the grilled fish! Now, here’s a video with a great guide from Serious Eating. (I’ll update this post with my own posts in the next few weeks!)

No picture can describe how good the meat is, but here’s a close-up!

How to serve Whole Baked Fish

The natural presentation of all fish looks nice and beautiful already in my opinion! But I think it would be nice to add some color to your outfit.

I put the fish in the picture on the plate because the sauce is so mouth watering in my world. Imagine: a delicious seafood dish mixed with garlic butter and washed down with warm bread!

Then I add:

  • Roasted tomatoes – drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with some salt and pepper.
    In order not to disturb the hot air around the fish, I put it on a tray on the floor of the oven while the fish is cooking;
  • Lemon Slices – a must have dish for all kinds of seafood and one can eat as much as they want; and
  • Fresh dill

How long will this arrive? In fact, feeding these soldiers for half a day is easy and good. But fair? It looks great, the delicious seafood is a delight for everyone and makes a great base for a party. In fact, it was one of the highlights of a buffet dinner I hosted at my house recently, and it was huge.
It will be yours!

Whole Baked Fish – Snapper with Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce

Whole Baked Fish – Snapper with Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce

The easiest and best way to cook fish is to cook it whole. The dough is the juiciest, most tender and full of energy. Cooking fish this way is easy to eat throughout the week and also takes up a significant portion of the time! I used the whole fish today, but this recipe works with any fish.
prep time
5 mins
cooking time
30 mins
total time
35 mins



  • 2 x 800g / 1.6 lb whole snapper or other whole fish , scaled, gutted and cleaned (Note 1)

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt , kosher/cooking (not table salt)

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  • 1/2 cup fresh dill sprigs, packed

  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves, packed

  • 4 garlic cloves , finely sliced

  • 1 lemon , sliced (8 slices each lemon)


  • 150g / 10 tbsp unsalted butter , cut into cubes

  • 2 tsp garlic , finely minced

  • 1 tbsp fresh dill , finely chopped


Preheat oven to 220°C/430°F (200°C fan). Cover a tray with parchment/baking paper.
Clipping Fins: Use scissors to remove all fins from the fish - the fins on either side and the fins on the back and bottom of the fish (but not the tail).
Angled Fish Fillet: Make 3 diagonal cuts on each side of the fish, cut the meat down to the bone (see pictures in the article and/or video, it helps!).
Fish (Note 2): Sprinkle some salt and pepper into the fish cavity. Sprinkle the cavity with pieces of garlic, then fill with parsley and dill. Spread the lemon over the plants.
Tie Fish (Note 3): Make 3 fish ties together using kitchen string.
Seasoned Skin: Sprinkle some more salt and pepper on the skin (both sides) and head of the fish.
Then drizzle olive oil. Rub all the fish, including the slashes.
Cook for 20 minutes (Note 4): Place the fish on the prepared tray. Bake for 20 minutes or until temperature reaches 55°C / 131°F (insert thermometer in thickest part of fish without protecting bone). Alternatively, use a small knife on a slice of fish to gently pull some of the meat off the bone.
If it peels off the unprotected bone, it's okay.
To rest: Remove from oven, transfer to a plate and let stand for 5 minutes. The internal temperature will rise to 58°C / 136.5F ("medium" meaning freshly cooked, not raw at all, but juicy and moist).
Serve with garlic and dill butter sauce. Either drizzle oil on the fish before cooking it or let everyone do it themselves. For a quick tutorial on how to cut and cook a whole grilled fish, watch this video from Serious Eats.

Garlic and Dill Butter Sauce:

Melted Butter: Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it melts, add the garlic and cook, stirring, between 45 seconds and 1 minute, until it smells so good that your mouth is watering!
Add the dill: Remove from heat. Mix the dill. Use it as a guide.


Fish - I used fish here, but this recipe will work with any type of fish. I usually recommend sticky round fish for this recipe. This fish looks like the fish shown in this article. Their bodies have a cylindrical middle and they swim flat (as opposed to flat-swimming fish such as flounder, turbot, and flounder). Alternate the fillets so that they are thick and easy to cook. I also recommend fish with large, flat fillets like the sea bass pictured here. This is easier to harvest, better meat yield, easier to cook and serve. Flathead, torpedo-shaped fish such as dory/ratchetfish and catfish, or fish with very large heads such as rock cod will be more difficult. How to Avoid: Fish that dry out easily, such as totoaba, tuna, mackerel or heron. Recommended sizes for all cooked fish: Snapper (pictured) Snapper / Dollard Barramundi Blue Cod / Blueeye Mullet Jew Fish / Mullet Trout (river) Salmon 4 4B 4 Cog 4 (Smolt) Cod Tilapia Fish Cavity – This is the starvation zone where the internal organs live. Tie Fish - This step is recommended but not required. It holds the fish together so that the herbs etc. Don't worry about the nice butcher style tie with drawstring. Just make three long ropes and tie them to the fish one by one! It does the same job. Cooking time for all fish - 20 minutes (any amount) per 800 g of fish. Larger fish take longer to cook and different fish may require slightly different cooking times. It's not real science, so start checking your fish at 15 minutes and check every few minutes from there.
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