BakedMainsMeatQuick & EasySeafood

Whole Baked Fish – Baked with Garlic, Red Chillies & Butter Sauce

20 mins Cook
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The very best and exceptional way to cook dinner a fish is to make a whole Baked Fish. I baked it with red whole chillies to spiced it up a bit.

This recipe is for people who love to eat spicy I baked this whole fish with whole red chillies and seasoned with fresh sliced onions and dill.

You can also try my recipe of Oven Baked Tandoori Chicken. I’m sure you will love the recipes.

The flesh is at its juiciest and most tender, and it’s absolutely easy. Cooking fish this way is easy sufficient for midweek meals, however nevertheless makes an impressive centrepiece for events! I’m using an entire snapper nowadays, but this recipe will go with any fish.

baked fish
Baked with Garlic, Red Chillies & Butter Sauce
2 43
Love this with fresh sliced onions

Whole Baked Fish

Ask any chef, and that they’ll let you know without hesitation that the very best and first-class way to cook dinner a fish is to cook it entire. The flesh is juicier and more smooth, and with no filleting and faffing around it’s also lifeless simple.

For plenty even though, the notion of cooking an entire fish is intimidating. not simply the cooking element both, but even shopping for fish. What fish is pleasant to cook dinner whole? how can you tell if it’s sparkling enough? How have to it be prepared for baking?

The good news is the solutions to all of these questions are absolutely sincere. I’ll be protecting all of it in today’s put up!

How to Choose a Fish to Cook Whole

The first step is to select a fish suitable for cooking whole. There are 4 key things to consider here:

  1. Fish freshness
  2. How the fish should be cleaned and prepared (by the fish shop – or you!)
  3. How big the fish should be in terms of portion per person
  4. The type of fish

1. How to Tell Fish is Fresh

It is going with out announcing that you can purchase the hottest fish you may. One gain of cooking complete fish is it’s far less difficult to how sparkling an entire fish is than with fillets! right here’s what to look for while selecting a fish for freshness:

  • Eyes – The eyes need to be clean, not cloudy. The older the fish, the extra cloudy the entire eye will become;
  • Gill color – The gills have to be shiny purple / orange, not brown. You need to lift the gill flaps to check this;
  • Scent – The unmarried largest clue to figuring out freshness. It must scent easy and of the ocean, now not a rank fishy smell; and
  • Contact – It must sense plump and company to touch. while you poke it, it springs again. If a dent remains, then the fish isn’t very sparkling.

TIP: by no means be shy about insisting that your fish save assistant pass the fish over the counter so you can investigate it yourself. Ask them to raise the gills to reveal you, get them to prod it, and deliver it a sniff your self! Fish is high-priced, and you have every proper to know what you’re buying.

2. How to Prepare Fish for Cooking Whole

Fish ought to be gutted, scaled and cleaned earlier than cooking entire. whole fish on display at shops in Australia are commonly aren’t gutted nor scaled. Ask the fishmonger to do both for you. that is a general a part of carrier supplied at fish stores in Australia. in case you are squeamish about the head, you could also get them to put off it!

  • Gutting – that is whilst the stomach (underside) of the fish is reduce open and entrails are eliminated. This must ideally be executed as quickly as feasible after the fish is stuck, even if this is frequently no longer the case at fishmongers. The cause is the fish’s organs degrade fast and can taint the flesh of the fish. So for all you fishermen available, always gut your fish as quickly as you seize it, don’t even go away it in a single day inside the fridge with the center inside;
  • Scaling – that is the elimination of the scales of the fish. There are scaling gear that make brief paintings of this, but you can additionally use the lower back of a kitchen knife (ie. the blunt side, no longer the sharp facet), rapidly scrubbing it in opposition to the route of the scales. It’s a totally messy commercial enterprise though and sticky scales will go anywhere – subsequently get your fishmonger to do it!
  • Cleaning – This refers to wiping the fish easy after scaling and gutting the use of paper towels or tea towels. keep away from washing fish below cold water as this degrades the flesh of the fish! in case you see your fishmonger washing fish, ask them no longer to scrub yours and smooth it your self at home as an alternative. notice once in a while fishmongers ask you in case you want your fish “cleaned”, when they sincerely mean scaling and gutting. So, clarify!

Scaling and gutting a fish is a wellknown provider furnished through fish stores and is built into the price of fish. So constantly ask them to do it for you, despite the fact that they don’t ask first!

3. Whole Fish Size – How Many Servings?

As a guide, permit round 400g (14oz) of complete fish weight in keeping with person. a whole fish yields on common 40 – 50% of flesh, relying on the species (the the rest is guts, bones, head and many others). This equates to one hundred sixty – 200g (five.5 – 6.6 oz) fish meat in line with character assuming a forty – 50% flesh yield primarily based on the weight of a whole fish.

So, calculating conservatively, for an 800g (1.3lb) complete fish say, this yields 800g (1.3lb) x forty% = 320g (11oz) fish meat, minimum. between two people this is at least 160g (5.5oz) each – substantial portions.

  • Entire fish length for roasting – anywhere from 600g (1.2lb) up to round 2kg (4lb) in step with fish is a good length for roasting. a whole lot smaller and it won’t be inside the oven lengthy sufficient to increase appropriate flavour with the pores and skin and may be more prone to overcooking seeing that it will cook quicker. a lot large and also you’ll battle to get the flesh to cook dinner frivolously (ie. outdoor will overcook before the center finishes cooking; and
  • A couple of fish – To serve 4 people, either use 2 x 800g (1.3lb) fish, or 1 x 1.6kg (3.2lb) fish. If roasting more than one fish, pick out fish which might be very close to the identical length, in order that they roast in the equal time.

4. Best Fish for Roasting

The fish pictured in this recipe is snapper. Almost any table fish is good for roasting whole, if suitably sized.

For this recipe and especially if you are new to roasting whole fish however, I would recommend mostly sticking to what are termed round fish which are fish shaped like the snapper pictured in this post. These are fish that are roughly cylindrical in the centre of their bodies, and swim upright (as contrasted with say flat fish like flounder, turbot, sole etc which swim lying flat). Round fish fillets tend to be thicker, making them easier to cook.

I would also recommend, for this recipe at least, fish with large and flat fillets such as the snapper pictured. This is for ease of stuffing, for better flesh yield, easier cooking and also for serving. Torpedo-shaped fish like flathead or gurnard / latchet, or fish with very large heads like rock cod, will be a slightly more challenging.

With this in mind, here are some suggested fish that are suitably sized and shaped for cooking whole:

  • Snapper
  • Bream / dorade
  • Barramundi
  • Blue cod / blue eye trevalla
  • Jewfish / mulloway
  • Trout (river)
  • Salmon (small ones)
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Bass / sea bass / branzino
  • Pollock
  • Tilapia

Fish to Avoid:

Avoid fish that tends that tend to dry out easily when cooked, such as:

  • kingfish
  • tuna
  • mackerel
  • bonito
  • swordfish

These fish are delicious roasted but have to be cooked very carefully.

What You Need to Bake a Whole Fish

To bake an entire fish, you clearly best want salt, pepper and olive oil. when you have excellent fish, the flavour and juiciness of the flesh need to be such that every one you want is a squeeze of fresh lemon juice!

The empty intestine cavity of the fish however affords a great opportunity to feature flavour by stuffing it with some clean aromatics. these days I’m the use of garlic, lemon, parsley and dill – a completely traditional mixture for a whole baked fish:

Notice: The image above display the portions for two x 800g / 1.6lb of snapper. each fish serves 2 human beings, so 2 snappers serve four people.

What You Need For Garlic, Tomatoes & Butter Sauce

I’ve selected a simple Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce that is going superbly with a whole Baked Fish. You simply can’t move wrong with this one! Dill is probably the maximum traditional herb teamed with fish. The fresh, gently aniseed flavour is a herbal pairing for any seafood. See underneath image for extra suggestions.

Right here’s what you want to make the Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce:

More Sauces for Whole Baked Fish!

Here are some more sauce suggestions:

How to Roast Fish in the Oven

At a naked minimum, all you want to bake a whole fish is as follows:

  • Reduce slashes into the flesh – to assist it cook dinner frivolously;
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

That’s literally it. the whole thing else you notice beneath are optional greater steps! however they’re well worth the attempt if you have the time, as they result in a tidier and more flavoursome end result.

  • Trim fins (elective) – Use scissors to trim the fins on the perimeters, top and underside of the fish. essentially, the whole thing besides the tail. Fins tend to curl, burn and stick out when they cook so that is for presentation functions for neatness. It’s additionally make it easier to devour so you don’t need to navigate the fins while getting rid of the flesh. It’s no longer a large deal however, so I’m marking this step as very non-obligatory!
  • Cut back flesh (vital) – cut three diagonal slashes on each side of the fish. cut via the flesh till you hit the backbone inside the middle. This facilitates the fish cook dinner lightly in addition to giving us an opportunity to get seasoning into the flesh;
  • Stuff fish (important, for this recipe!) – The fish will have a cavity where the center have been removed. Stuff the garlic, lemon and herbs interior. This step is elective in thus far as I’ve said that you can bake fish unadorned, however for this specific recipe it’s not non-compulsory!
  • Tie fish (elective) – The reason of this step is to maintain the fish together so that you get better infusion of flavour from the stuffing into the flesh, and a better form (it stops the stomach flaps from curling open because it cooks). It’s the “proper” way to make a crammed and baked fish, however it’s no longer a massive deal if you don’t try this step;
  • Season fish (essential) – Drizzle with oil and season with salt, pepper and red chillies being certain to rub it into the slashes. try this on both aspects of the fish;
  • Bake for 20 minutes or till the inner temperature of the flesh in the thickest part registers 55°C/131°F for medium, that is simply cooked however not raw at all, very juicy and moist. Insert thermometer in the thickest a part of the fish, no longer towards the bone. alternatively, use a small knife at one of the reduce slits within the fish to prise a chunk of meat gently faraway from the backbone. If it flakes far from the bone without resistance, it’s accomplished.
    Rest for five minutes. As with other proteins, this permits the juices redistribute during the flesh. if you do now not relaxation, then the juices will run anywhere whilst you begin breaking into the flesh.
    Internal temperature upward push – because the fish is resting, the inner temperature will upward push to 58°C/136.five°F (that is the goal very last temperature for medium).
  • Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce (optional) – Make the sauce while the fish is baking. It’s as easy as melting butter, cooking the garlic for a minute until it begins to odor terrific, then including inside the dill on the ultimate minute; and
  • Serve! Serve the butter on the aspect so that you can both spoon it over the fish simply earlier than you serve, or allow humans help themselves.
    As for the way to serve the fish? I’m kicking myself for now not filming the proper way to carve and serve an entire baked fish! So for now, here’s a concise video from extreme Eats that may be a right educational. (i can replace this post with my very own inside the coming weeks!)

How to Serve Whole Baked Fish

The herbal presentation of an entire fish looks as if grand and superb already, in my opinion! however I think it’s miles fine to feature a dash of color to fashion it up. I’ve done with garlics and tomatoes and some fresh

inside the pictured photographs, I left the fish on the tray due to the fact fish juices are surprisingly coveted in my global. assume: Deliciously intense seafood juice mingling with garlic butter, all mopped up with heat crusty bread!

Then I actually add:

  • Oven roasted tomatoes – simply drizzled with a hint of olive oil, and sprinkled with a pinch of salt and pepper. I popped this in a tray on the floor level of the oven even as the fish became baking so it didn’t disrupt the flow of hot air across the fish;
  • Lemon wedges – An vital garnish for any seafood dish, so people can assist themselves to as a whole lot as they want; and
  • fresh dill

As for when to serve this? maximum honestly this is simple and healthy enough as a midweek meal to feed the troops. but truely? It looks so high-quality and first-rate seafood is the sort of deal with for every person that it’s a wonderful centrepiece for gatherings too. In reality it changed into one of the mains at a buffet night meal i lately hosted at domestic and it become a huge hit. it will be at yours too!

Whole Baked Fish – Baked with Garlic, Red Chillies & Butter Sauce

The very best and exceptional way to cook dinner a fish is to make a whole Baked Fish. I baked it with red whole chillies to spiced it up a bit.
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
20 mins
total time
30 mins



  • 2 x 800g / 1.6 lb whole snapper or other whole fish

  • 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 red onions

  • 1/2 cup red whole chillies, round ones

  • 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

  • 3 tsp fresh dills


Preheat oven to 220°C/430°F (200°C fan). Line a tray with parchment/baking paper.
Trim fins: reduce all fins off the fish using scissors – each fins on the facet, and the fins on the returned and underside of the fish (however no longer the tail).
Cut down flesh: cut 3 slashes on each facet of the fish, slicing thru flesh right down to the bone (see photos in publish and/or video, useful!).
Stuff fish (note 2): Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper in the cavity of the fish. Scatter the cavity with garlic slices, then stuff with parsley and dill. Layer lemons on pinnacle of herbs.
Tie fish (be aware 3): using kitchen string make three ties to hold fish together.
Season skin: Sprinkle remaining salt and pepper on the pores and skin (both facets), which includes a bit on the pinnacle of the fish. Then drizzle with olive oil. Rub all around the fish, which include in the slashes.
Bake 20 mins (word 4): vicinity fish on prepared tray. Bake for 20 minutes or till the inner temperature is fifty five°C/131°F (insert thermometer inside the thickest a part of the fish, no longer in opposition to the bone). as an alternative, use a small knife at one of the cut slits inside the fish to prise a chunk of meat lightly faraway from the backbone. If it flakes far from the bone without resistance, it is accomplished.
Relaxation: get rid of from oven, switch to serving platter and go away it to relaxation for 5 mins. The inner temperature will rise to fifty eight°C / 136.5F ("medium", ie. simply-cooked and not raw at all, very juicy and wet).
Serve with Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce on the aspect. either pour over the butter simply previous to serving the fish, or permit all of us help themselves. See this video through extreme Eats for a concise tutorial for a way to carve and serve an entire roasted fish.

Garlic & Dill Butter Sauce:

Melted butter: Place butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add garlic and cook, stirring, for 45 seconds to 1 minute until it smells ridiculously good and you're salivating!
Add dill: Remove from heat. Stir in dill. Use per recipe.


1. Fish – I’ve used snapper here but this recipe is suitable for many types of fish. For this recipe I would recommend mostly sticking round fish. These are fish that are shaped like the snapper pictured in this post. They are roughly cylindrical in the centre of their bodies, and swim upright (as contrasted with say flat fish like flounder, turbot, sole etc that swim lying flat). Round fish fillets tend to be thicker, making them easier to cook. I would also recommend fish with large and flat fillets such as the snapper pictured. This is for ease of stuffing, for better flesh yield, easier cooking and also for serving. Torpedo-shaped fish like flathead, gurnard / latchet and catfish, or fish with very large heads like rock cod, will be a slightly more challenging. Avoid: fish that tend to dry out easily as kingfish, tuna, mackerel, or bonito. Suggested fish that are suitably sized and shaped for cooking whole: Snapper (pictured) Bream / dorade Barramundi Blue cod / blue eye trevalla Jewfish / mulloway Trout (river) Salmon (small ones) Cod Haddock Bass / sea bass / branzino Pollock Tilapia 2. Cavity of fish – This is the empty belly area where the guts were. 3. Tying fish – This step is recommended but not essential. It holds the fish together so the flavour from the herbs etc infuses into the flesh better, and holds the fish in shape (stops the belly flaps from curling outwards). Do not worry about doing fancy butcher-style tying with a single piece of string. Just get three string lengths, and tie them around the fish at intervals! It does the same job. 4. Cooking time for whole fish – 20 minutes is for 800g individual fish (any number). Larger fish will take longer to cook, and different shaped fish can take slightly different cooking times. It is not an exact science, so start checking your fish at the 15 minute mark and every few minutes from there.
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