Presenting one of the lightest, easiest, most flavorful, and most magnificent ways to cook fish — and my absolute favorite: Whole Grilled Branzino!
Mediterranean sea bass (branzino) is a flaky, white fish that is meaty and mild, and I love how crispy and salty the skin gets on the grill — stuffing with garlic, fresh herbs, red onion, and lemon keeps everything extra juicy! Stick around to the end of the video to see how easy it is to de-bone, but we usually just serve them whole for an utterly mermaid-ready experience — especially if you light a bonfire and grill beachside!
Suggested pairing: tender lettuce salad, roasted potatoes, or crusty baguette with a little olive oil and salt, and a cold beer or verdicchio, soaking up the final days of summer fun!
Two 1-pound whole branzino – cleaned, scaled, and gutted
¼ cup olive oil, plus more to grease grill and garnish as needed
4 garlic cloves, smashed
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, halved
10 thyme sprigs
10 oregano sprigs
Flaky sea salt
•Light a grill or preheat a grill pan over high heat.
•Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add olive oil and garlic and let sit 20 minutes to infuse. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the garlic olive oil all over the outside and inside of each fish, rubbing to gloss all surfaces. Season the fish inside and out with a good pinch of salt. Reserve the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to garnish the finished fish.
•Slice half the lemon into thin half-moons. Stuff each fish with half the red onion, half the lemon, and 4 sprigs each of thyme and oregano. Pull leaves from the remaining sprigs of both herbs and add to the leftover garlic oil; let sit until ready to garnish grilled fish, adding additional olive oil if needed.
•Tie each stuffed fish with kitchen twine if you have it to keep everything together, and let it sit and marinate on the counter for 20 minutes or up to 3 hours in the refrigerator. Make sure to let it rest on the countertop 20 minutes before you’re ready to cook for the chill to wear off.
•Use tongs to grease the grill plate with additional olive oil on a dishrag or paper towel. Grill the branzino over high heat, turning once after about 6 minutes. Skin on the underside will be crisp with deeply golden brown markings, and flesh will be tender and opaque white without any remaining translucency. Flip and cook another approximately 6 minutes or to desired doneness.
•Garnish the grilled branzino with remaining herbed garlic olive oil. Add flaky salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve hot! Leftover fish makes for a wonderful salad topper.