Whole Grilled Fish

Recipe courtesy of Tom Keegan

Tom Keegan is a native Long Islander, lifelong fisherman, and enthusiastic cook. As the owner of Keegan’s Specialty Seafood Market in Anderson Township, he hand-selects the finest fish and seafood from around the world to be shipped daily to his store. When purchasing a whole fish, Keegan recommends you buy from a reputable fishmonger, and only fish that is in season. While salmon is a popular choice and readily available, Keegan prefers red snapper or grouper for their mild flavor and firm, flaky texture. Figure about one-and-a-half pounds of fish per person, and invest in two good spatulas with thin blades for turning. This recipe is part of a full menu created by Tom Keegan for the July 2012 issue.


1 6 to 9 pound fish

¼ cup good quality olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish

2 sprigs fresh oregano, plus extra for garnish

2 sprigs fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
melted butter, for basting

Half a lemon, sliced thin for garnish


Have fishmonger remove scales, guts, fins, and gills. Leave tail on (head is optional). Wash fish and pat dry. If cooking with head on, score fish to spinal bone, perpendicular to spine behind head. Score above tail, as well as few slashes in the side. Rub fish inside and out with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Place garlic and herbs in cavity. Wipe grill grates with canola oil. Heat grill to 500 degrees or until coals are very hot, then reduce to 425 degrees. Place fish on grill, belly facing away from you, with head at the highest heat, and tail at the lowest. Grill 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Flip fish between two spatulas so belly faces you. Lightly baste with olive oil and melted butter, avoiding flare-ups. Grill for another 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Fish is done when meat inside the belly is no longer translucent. Check the meat at the spine where it was scored behind the head—it should be completely opaque. With spatulas, transfer the fish from grill to platter. Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

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