The Fish You Really Should Be Cooking

A whole one. Yes, with the bones. Alison Roman talks you through it.

Comments: 124

  1. Years ago, while living in Japan, I was treated to an expensive meal. The main event was a large fish—I forget what kind—that had been filleted shortly before it was served to us, its meat neatly sliced and arrayed at the base of the display. About halfway through the meal, the fish's tail began to quiver, than shake vigorously. I haven't thought twice about eating a whole fish since.

  2. @Bridgman Ummm - I'm pretty sure that fish was dead. Anyone who has ever caught and cleaned their own fish will tell you that the quivering can go on a bit after death. Fish don't have the same sort of nervous system we have - its much more primitive. You just happened to see what any fisherman or fish monger sees all the time. Just because its out of your sight doesn't mean it doesn't happen to your filleted fish when its freshly caught and dispatched. Look at it this way - at least it was fresh!

  3. The red snapper is one of my teleosts of choice. So glad to read this wonderful piece. I thought I am the only human who savor whole fish. Thank you. Local groceries sell this fish but appear smaller compared to what the asian fish market or international food market sell in my neighborhood. I get them from the latter and buy at least two, not one. Fry it on skillet as stated. Instead of citrus, I prefer slices of green mangoes if available. Paired with modest priced red wine, I savor the dish from head to tail with my fingers.

  4. Thank you for this wonderfully detailed recipe. I love grilled fish, but my only reservation is the smell, even in a well-ventilated kitchen. My financial advisor [!] shared with me her experience of baking fish that does not produce as much smell. To me, baked fish is very different from grilled. I guess, I have to wait until a warmer weather to grill outdoors a gutted and scaled red snapper and similarly delicious species.

  5. @Tuvw Xyz: grilled red snapper is delicious. BTW, I have a natural gas grill out on my deck, and I use it ALL YEAR ROUND, even digging it out of the snow sometimes! It works just fine in the cold. Please cut the head off, though. It's disgusting.

  6. @concern citizen ,disgusting is a strong word. This is about a whole fish, heads included ! That meat in the cheeks of the fish is delicious ! Yum all the way! Eat well!

  7. @Concerned Citizen My wife likes to grill outdoors on a hibachi. When I showed her your good comment, she said that we would need propane tanks on the rear porch and all the hassle associated therewith.

  8. the cheeks and eyes of the fish are also very tasty, try them!

  9. I lived for 20 years in San Sebastian (on the Atlantic coast of Spain) where the fish is sublime, and always fresh. There, I learned that you know if a fish is fresh by the eyes. The eyes should be bulging and glossy. Not sunken, like the fish in the photo.

  10. @Juliet Jones Respectfully, I have been ocean/tidal bays fishing for 40 years and learned a few things during this time. I believe you are correct as far as looking to the eyes as a measure for freshness but this is technique used for fresh or uncooked fresh. Don't you just love it when you read these articles in our american media sources,it's like they discovered this whole fish thing. I think america is the only country where this would be considered novel or new.

  11. Whole fish is incredibly simple to cook if you steam it. Black bass is one of the better bets, but catfish, tilapia, silver carp (be prepared for lots of bones) are also good. You simple scrape the skin with the side of a knife to make sure most of the scales are off. Then wash and place on a few green onion stalks on a plate. Put a stand in a coverable pan with some water, cover and boil for 10 minutes or less. Puts some green onion pieces on top of the fish. In a small pan, heat up a small amount of regular cooking oil (not olive) until very hot, pour over the fish & green onions. Lastly in the same small pan, put some seafood soy sauce to heat up and pour over the fish and serve. Seafood soy sauce is just sweetened light soy sauce. Regarding catfish, it's just as easy if you chop it up in small sections/steaks, and use black bean sauce while steaming.

  12. About the cutlery in the charmingly appetizing photo. What is a table spoon doing there and why is there no fish knife or a second fish fork? I promised to the readers of this Section not to comment on tattoos and not to call hamburger-with-ketchup "US national food". But there is still a third bee buzzing in my bonnet -- table setting and table manners.

  13. @Tuvw Xyz. Not all of us have fish knives or forks anymore. I gave mine away years ago when I discovered Elizabeth Windsor wouldn't be coming to dine. One can certainly consume a whole fish efficiently and gracefully without either. Times change.

  14. The fish is on a serving plate. The spoon and fork are serving utensils.

  15. Once I watched a tv show called chew and they invite celebrity to talk and eat with them. That day the thing that caught my attention was a “celebrity “ didn’t know how to use/ eat with the fork! She was struggling spooning yes “spooning “ vegetables with her fork! Thank god for her there wasn’t a knife...! Table manner that is!

  16. Leaving the head on results in better flavor, the same as leaving the head on the prawns when cooking. You don't have to eat it, but leave it on for the cooking process! We are lucky to live near a seaside village where daily boats come in and our trusted fishmonger has the best stuff. My personal favorite are butterfish, perch, and Montauk porgies which I lightly dust with flour, and then pan-fry, whole, in corn oil, salting them at the very end. It always results in crispy skin on the outside, and flavorful, tender flesh on the inside.

  17. @ Irina New York I envied you your location, where the freshness and time from the fish landing on the deck of a fishing boat to the start of cooking in the kitchen need not be questiond.

  18. Since when was cooking a fish whole some type of exotic adventure? In the Pacific Northwest, with our abundant and varied seafood, it is done all the time. Whole salmon, steelhead, rockfish, trout, red snapper are regulars on the BBQ. Head on preparations and presentations are beautiful. We even have Korean inspired salmon preparations where the fish is whole, but the backbone is removed. Really outstanding!

  19. @Dan Clements I very much envy your Pacific Northwest culture then. As the daughter of an immigrant family growing up in the Midwest, we ate plenty of whole fish, especially for celebrations. But my husband, who grew up not 100 miles from me, only experienced seafood in the form of popcorn shrimp or frozen fish sticks before he went away to college. We live in SoCal now, and half of what we regularly eat here--pho with oxtail, lengua tacos, spicy Sichuan fish heads--would scare my in-laws half to death. I think it's so lovely that whole fish is not a revelation for you, but sadly, for many pockets of the country, it very much would be.

  20. @Dan Clements: you live on the OCEAN so that's very nice FOR YOU. It does nothing for those of us who live 1000 miles inland. Fish is expensive here -- wild salmon is now about $29 a pound! By the time it gets here, it is not all that fresh. Most of it is frozen, and while edible, it is inferior to fresh fish. Oh and the oceans are being fished out. Just sayin'. Please read Paul Greenberg's excellent book "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food". We should probably have a moratorium on fishing (wild, not farmed fish) for at least five years to let the species recover.

  21. @Concerned Citizen: Good thoughts, but way too broad a brush. I am an underwater and nature photographer and try to keep up on sustainability topics. Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great list/app of sustainable fish to eat. We don’t eat locally caught King Salmon, for example, as endangered Southern resident Orca are dependent on them. We go with line caught fish, not bottom dragged. Check out the negative impacts products like beef have on the environment.

  22. How does a 2 1/2 lb. whole red snapper serve four (4) portions? I buy red snapper regularly. A whole fish yields about half that is edible. I doubt that 1 pound or so will satisfy four people. For reasons unknown, recipes in the Times constantly underestimate serving sizes, yields, and quantities of liquids needed for making sauces.

  23. Thank you.

  24. @Christopher K. Lendt: they are likely estimating four ounces as a serving, based on dietary guides. However, IMHO this does not reflect what real people eat in real life.

  25. @Christopher K. Lendt: Not necessarily disagreeing with you, but that would be enough for my family of four (all adults). There is something special about a big red snapper, so I think we just take care to appreciate it. Other elements of the meal -- like rice and veg -- can fill us up. I do think you should be able to get 1.5-2 pounds of meat from it, as well. Treat it like filet mignon. A 6 oz filet probably doesn't satiate most people either.

  26. Maybe if people started eating all meat and fish with the heads on it would remind them that they are eating other feeling beings that died in pain and deserved to live too. Since eating flesh is unnecessary for health unless you live in a frozen climate where nothing grows and is terrible for the environment, perhaps eating this type of fish IS a "no-brainer" as the author suggests.

  27. Well in the end either I'm going to eat the red snapper or a shark or other carnivorous fish is. I vote for me. I doubt many red snapper die naturally of old age.

  28. @Lincat I am left to assume that the food you eat in no way indirectly harms other feeling beings that die in pain and deserve to live too. Ever spend much time in an industrialized mono culture farm environment? The resident "feeling beings" are pretty much poisoned/killed or otherwise displaced by certain humans (farm workers) so other certain humans can eat fresh non-feeling plant material guilt-free. Sorry - "no free lunch"

  29. Lincat has the right idea here. For any interested in the ethical foundation of their comment (and the predominant argument for why it’s morally unjustifiable to eat fish or any other sentient being, much less dress up their dead bodies for an article about cooking them): https://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/phil1200,Spr07/singer.pdf

  30. How did the tip of the pictured fish get cooked? It was outside the pan.

  31. @Keith Hanzel - unfortunately the article did not go into detailed cooking instructions. I strongly suspect that what when the author mentions pan searing she meant is a first step. After the skin has been seared in the skillet, the fish is transferred to the oven and baked at a temperature that will cook it through but would not crisp the skin. I've used the pan sear followed by roasting at moderate temperature for large pieces of meat such as a beef or pork roast. I've never had success with it for chicken. LoL! And because of the lingering aromas, I almost never cook fish at home!

  32. @Keith Hanzel If you read the recipe, you will see that it is cooked in the oven for 15-18 minutes.

  33. The easiest way to remove the flesh is to use a butterknife or thin chopsticks to cut along the spine of the fish (it's at the midpoint rather than towards the back, like mammals). You then cut along the top just along the dorsal fins and make a perpendicular cut or two if the fish is large. Then repeat, flip, repeat, repeat.

  34. I love fish and cook it and eat as often as I can, pretty much any kind of seafood, though I generally draw the line at Atlantic Salmon and Sea Cucumber. But fish that has the head on and is not filleted is an immediate "Ugh!". Now I have to work for my dinner and try not to get a bone stuck in my throat (been there, done that). I'm already put off so any marginal (and it is marginal) increase in flavor is off-set by my now bad mood. Filleting is not hard and if you cannot make a fillet tasty and delicious, don't preach to me about why cooking a whole choke-fest is "better". The only fish I would draw exceptions for are very small ones like sardines and smelts, where you eat them bones and all.

  35. I'm glad to read this encouragement to cook and eat the whole fish. Down here in the Deep South where I grew up, we often cook the entire fish and are not squeamish about it. Small fish can be deep fried or sauteed; larger fish seem to be best when the cavity is stuffed with lemon or other citrus slices, fresh dill and scallions, and then oven roasted at 500 degrees. The pan juices can then be spooned over the fish to keep it moist. If you know anything about anatomy, it is no more difficult to navigate the fish bones than to remove the bone from your pork chop or steak.

  36. The fish we ahould be cooking is no fish at all. We have and continue to fish out the waters of the world. Let’s not continue to glorify this type of eating.

  37. Ouch. You’re right now or nearly in a matter of years. But please don’t forget CO2 which has long thought oceans first.

  38. @Dr R What are we supposed to eat? Not all fish are over fished - some are harvested in a very sustainable way. You are from Illinois - eat catfish!

  39. @Dr R let’s push our governments to impose and POLICE sustainable fishing.That together with fish farming will secure enough fish. After all fish is not chicken ,it’s a delicacy not for every day

  40. So much more flavor in whole fish! For this reason I also cook shrimp with the shell and tail on, it retains more flavor. When in Northern Michigan and Italy, two places I visit often I make smelt and fresh anchovies whole in a variety of ways. So much nutrition in the smaller fish!

  41. Grilled or fried red snapper is a go-to dish at any Colombian restaurant in Queens. But I’ll definitely try recipe at home. Add some tostones (fried green plantains) salad and rice and taste heaven.

  42. What I done, and seems to work well for me. I preheat the oven to 500F. Then I gently wash the fish interior exterior under clear running tap water. Then I pat it dry using paper towels. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. I throw a pretty good amount of salt on the parchment paper where I am planning on placing the prepared fish. Rub a bit of olive oil between my hands and the coat the entire of exterior of the fish with a very thin sheen of olive oil. I place it on a sheet of parchment paper, throw some salt over it. Open the oven door. Set the baking sheet with fish on it just slightly below the middle. Close the door, and adjust the temperature to 400-425F. Then about 20-15 minutes later I come back and the fish is done. If you want to skin it while cooking, replace the parchment paper with aluminum and prepare it with salt. Rinse but don't dry the fish. Lay the fish out on the foil and salt. Quickly wrap it up tightly and place in the freezer for 30-one hour. Preheat the oven to 500F, take the fish out of the freezer, and pop it in the oven. Adjust the temperature down to 420-425F and the same cooking time. Allow the fish to rest for about 5 minutes and then you can remove open the aluminum foil with the tines of a fork. The skin usually sticks to the aluminum and you can keep the head covered if it really bothers you.

  43. Thanks. Sounds like a plan.

  44. In a small apartment, baking, grilling, pan frying, even steaming, leave a fishy odor that lasts for days. The only solution is mircrowave: wrap in saran wrap in a dish with splash of lemon juice and/or soy sauce for moisture. Quick, preserves all the juices, and healthy.

  45. Do not use Saran in the microwave. You’ll be eating plastic chemicals! Waxed paper is much safer.

  46. Alison, thank you for this article. I never grew up eating fish (unless you consider a fish stick sea food) and am learning late in life to expand my seafood horizons (I recently conquered pan frying rainbow trout with skin and gills). But the whole fish thing always gave me the willies. Your thoughtful, hand holding approach on whole fish praxis is timely for the upcoming Lenten season. Thank you again!

  47. I do a lot of whole fish, usually black sea bass which is local to the northeast Atlantic fisheries. I broil, but steaming is also good. I never cut slits in the skin, and I disagree that it is nearly impossible to overcook. The fish looses its succulence if left in too long. I also make stock with the head and bones that the fishermen call the rack. That really stinks up the kitchen, but so what!

  48. The picture of the whole fish served on the plate surrounded by citrus is beautiful. Pity that after picking a little meat off the bones to eat there's just as much left on the plate after the meal than before to so straight into the trash can. An effort well worth it to be sure.

  49. @John Doe Fish Bone Broth? Packed full with good stuff and unfussy to make.

  50. Western life style and cooking is more to make rich corporations and industries more profitable to sum it up. Quality of life and individual health took a back seat for long- mainly in America and countries influenced by American corporate greed and fast-food life style, where people are forced or coerced to believe in "too busy" life style to make more money without thinking much about what that money is for, without having much time and desire to improve quality of life by enjoying nature, proper food, spending time with family and friends (before being forced to retire). So we got addicted to coffee, which is easy to make, than enjoy some fine home made tea (as European colonists used to do). On top of that, we got rid of that effort too and got addicted to buy coffee from a shop and drink while driving. Industrial fatty and/or sugary food became our staple diet with increased rate to obesity, cancer and many more.

  51. What article are you commenting on?

  52. How long to cook a whole fish? The rule is 10 minutes per inch maximum thickness. It always works. Don't overcook fish. It should just flake.

  53. Most important part of cooking fish is to reach 145 degrees in the and then remove from the oven immediately. It will be perfect every time.

  54. I've been eating whole fish for as long as I remember. Living in the Third Coast means we have daily supply to fresh, wild red snapper, flounder, red fish, amberjack, drum, etc. Some of these fish are now farm raised so I try to avoid them. Likewise I avoid any fillets that don't have at least a spot of skin to identify the fish. Typically I buy gutted and scaled fish, rinse them in running water, pat them dry, coat them with salt and pepper and oregano, then bake them in a 450 degree oven. A little bit of lemon-olive oil mix is all it takes for a wonderful meal. Reminds me of eating in a restaurant in the Mediterranean.

  55. Solid recipe, but why red snapper? We have plenty of local species here in the NY/NJ area that roasts and grills up whole beautifully. Porgies are delicious and sustainable. Here's a couple I grilled Caribbean style: https://youtu.be/bnHA5OQtHQc Fluke are excellent roasted whole: https://youtu.be/yyZgHle-o_E And if you want to eat lower on the food chain, fresh Atlantic herring is hard to beat: https://youtu.be/xC00vMzA6WA

  56. @Roger Nice knife skills, but you lost me when you didn't taste that pepper to see how hot it was.

  57. Oh the horror on my wife’s face in Barcelona last year when my dinner arrived whole. She is firmly in the does not like seafood category. The whole meal she wished she was at a different table and I was quite happy experiencing the taste and texture of the fish in a way I didn’t realize possible.

  58. Red snapper is one of the worst examples you could have chosen - it is specifically called out by Seafood Watch as a fish to avoid because of overfishing concerns. I love seafood but have gradually limited my choices because of the worldwide overexploitation of this resource that could end by as early as 2050 when many scientific ocean research groups are predicting a world-wide collapse of ocean biodiversity. All you have to do is look at the diminishing size and weight of average catches - both of individual fish and overall catch - and the constantly changing offerings on menus as species are overfished and replaced by some new species that then in turn is replaced, etc. The cod fishery of the northwest North Atlantic collapsed in 1992 and has never recovered. It is our choices - the privileged who can afford to make these sorts of choices - that can make the difference.

  59. @SDM With climate change, ocean acidification, dubious certification schemes, etc., the only truly responsible choice is to opt instead from the many marvelous vegan versions there are of virtually every type of seafood, and other foods, imaginable (Google: vegan seafood resources). They're better for us, and certainly for the fishes and other animals who are needlessly killed by fishing/fish farming.

  60. "Well, since I tend to keep things on the casual side, I won’t even bother filleting it most of the time. Rather, I’ll just tell everyone I’m eating with to go at one side of the fish with a fork, until we’ve eaten all the meat on that side and reached the bones." "...I'm eating with to go at one side of the fish..."? Did the writer intend to say this? I read it several times and can't make sense of it.

  61. @Tim The breakdown is everyone I'm eating with / to go at / one side of the fish. So the author is eating with other people and is telling them to eat from one side of the fish first.

  62. @R Of course! Thanks. But I'll wager I'm not the only person who was confused by that.

  63. “To go” here means “to eat”

  64. You must first run your hands over the raw fish to ensure there are no remaining scales. There probably will be and, for your eating pleasure, you must remove them prior to cooking. Before you cut into a fish, you should really have knowledge of where the small bones are on the edges and near the throat. Unless you are already a pro, It is not unlikely that you will get some of these in your mouth before you ever reach the spine. And having reached the spine it is a little unseemly to remove the spine with the head attached. But if you do manage it while the eyes stare at you, you will need a separate plate to put it on. All in all, there is work and possible frustration in preparing and eating a whole fish. Not that it should deter you but you should know what you are getting into.

  65. @Decent Human Philly Thank you for the reminder of the small sharp bones that are even more of a problem in freshwater fish. It is one of the inadequacies of the industry of table utensils that there are still no tools available for handling certain cooked foods not with the fingers, but according to the good table manners.

  66. You’re welcome.

  67. Red Snapper (like many species of fish and ocean animals) in many locations are over fished and the population is in trouble. Perhaps that should be in included in the article. It would responsible journalism.

  68. @BMD yes, I have also watched the decimation of a fishery in the Sea of Cortez....where hundreds of fisherman catch thousands and thousands of little red snappers....to be shipped off to sale....because the whole thing fits on a plate....now there are no more large snappers left to create---- great presentation on a plate...yes... Sustainable?....NO!

  69. The toxicity levels in fish are at a dangerous, all time high. Leave the fish alone.

  70. I can attest with other posters that fish and shellfish cooked bone in or shell on is incredibly more flavorful than the bare naked version!

  71. Must be nice to live in a place where this is an easy option. For the majority of us in America, the WalMarts, Kroger's, etc. will never have whole fresh fish.

  72. Look for whole fish, including red snapper, at Costco or Whole Foods. Or find an Asian grocery.

  73. Yes but in many of those places you can catch your own fish quite easily.

  74. @Ragnar Again many places don't have Costco, Whole Foods or specialty grocers.

  75. The eyes of the uncooked fish in the second photo look dried out, sunken and shrunken, certainly not the "clear, taut eyes" of a truly fresh fish.

  76. Years ago in Georgia I attended the opening of a small town restaurant. The owners had hired as chef a recent Hurricane Katrina refugee from New Orleans. The chef stopped by our table to check on my whole flounder which was the most exquisite fish I have ever eaten. He was pleased with my reaction but not surprised. He said when he picked out fish at the market he would, "Look 'em in de eye to see if just yesterday dey were swimming' in de wawta." Outstanding!

  77. So much flavor in the nooks and crannies of a whole fish - of course the succulent cheeks and more. We usually put out a small bowel of vinegar to dampen the fish smell in the kitchen. I say dont be squeamish about bones and eyes and enjoy with fingers and gusto.

  78. Try buying a whole fish with bones in the US! Nearly impossible. Makes me insane and so happy that I live in Italy where fish with bones is a 'natural' thing.

  79. @ Judith Klinger Umbria, Italy and NY Your comment reads as if in Italy people consume fish with bones too. :-))

  80. Next visit to the US, try visiting the Pacific Northwest for whole fish. Most markets in the Puget Sound area.

  81. In NY you can get whole fish literally anywhere. Best not to generalize.

  82. I had a coworker who went thru the agony of eating a fish bone by accident and having it penetrate the colon. Absolutely something you wouldn't wish on anybody. Sometimes food editors are all style and no common sense. You can fillet fish for a reason - use it.

  83. I prefer my food without personality.

  84. Yummie. Time to give up being a vegetarian. While at it, I want similar treatment for pigs/cows/chicken too.

  85. @PaulN No, it's high time to be vegan! All of the nutrients derived from animals can be obtained more healthfully, humanely, and environmentally responsibly from plant sources.

  86. Have the fishmonger throw the fish to you. You can claim you caught it yourself. Sorry, couldn't resist. :D

  87. Here's my even simpler whole fish recipe: 4 lb red snapper 4 lb kosher salt 4 egg whites 1 lemon fresh herbs of choice Preheat your oven to 500º F. Take the whole fish. Remove the lateral and anal fins with kitchen scissors. Salt the outside of the fish. Mix the salt and egg whites with a bit of water to make a thick paste. Put 1/3rd of the salt mixture onto a large sheet pan in the shape of the fish (covered with parchment paper or Silpat unless you wish to throw the pan away later!). Pack the fish with lemon slices and your selected herbs. Place it on its salt bed. Cover the fish with the remaining salt mixture and press to seal it together. Place it in the oven for 30 minutes. Bring the whole fish on its tray to the table. Get a hammer! Crack the salt crust and peel it off. Serve the top fillet. Pull the tail to remove the bones and the head. Give it to the cat. Serve the bottom fillet. Accept the rave reviews of your diners.

  88. Whole fish is a “fish” to me. Thanks for sharing !

  89. See " To Serve Man" by Damon Knight and " The Twilight Zone" episode based upon the story. There is no Chilean Sea Bass, there is the Patagonian Toothfish. Orange Roughy lived long and bred infrequently and aged at great depths before they appeared on our plates. Humans seek fish that don't taste nor look too fishy. Duh!

  90. @Blackmamba Still remember seeing that as a very young and impressionable child. Still makes me shutter. Though I was the only one that remembered it!

  91. Some big assumptions here. Many people in the United States grow up eating fish served whole, especially in the South, the West coast and in Hawai’i.

  92. Is having soft skin on a fish really that tragic? Don't get me wrong; I'm on board with eating a whole fish, but I feel like (some/white) Americans are weirdly obsessed with having crispy skin on their meat/fish. What's wrong with eating it soft?

  93. It doesn’t taste as good, and it could be smelly and slimy. If you enjoy eating it, go for it.

  94. One thing I picked out on my travels to Japan is the best way to eat a whole fish is with chopsticks. It makes it easy to pick the meat out from in between the bones. Also many smaller fish, think smaller than a your average grown man's forearm and be eaten bones and all when it is salted and cooked for an extended period of time, i.e. for a couple hours over some coals of a campfire while you have a few drinks and chat with friends/family.

  95. The best part of the fish is the head and, yes, the eyes.

  96. Chinese-style steamed whole fish. Simple recipe, few ingredients. You can find the recipe on-line. If you don't want to prep the fish yourself have the fish market do it for you. I recommend whole black sea bass, winter flounder or a nice double-palm sized porgy. Nothing wrong with whole steamed fish. Clean, fresh taste and little prep or clean-up.

  97. I always ritually kiss the fish on the lips before cooking it. I’m not kidding. Also, eat the cheeks, they’re delicious. No, not the red snapper in the picture, that’s not a good example of fresh.

  98. Yes the cheeks - the best most tender part of the fish. But here the head is favored. For those with the stomache - the eyeballs and/or brain I am seen as a class II fish head eater. Have never been able to eat the eye.

  99. @Gió So you add insult to injury.

  100. @MaryF Some of us are omnivore, get over it. The Times has plenty of vegetarian recipes, I do not go around commenting vegetarian recipes with "this is wrong!" "eat meat!" "eat fish!" Stop the harassment!

  101. I wanted to do this for a long time, but my husband wasn't crazy about the idea. Then I got a temporary job in Rome. What an adventure! But, the oven in my flat had only one temp. Somewhere between 450 and 500 f. Not kidding. It was off or full on. One of the things that worked was whole fish. Depending on the size it took between 20 and 30 minutes. I'd stop at a fish monger on the walk home, place thin sliced potatoes on or around the fish, salt and pepper, plus olive oil and an acid of choice. Delicious! Just had to make sure I removed the head before I served it.

  102. My husband wound up in the emergency room with a fish bone in his throat. It happens frequently - if you doubt it ask emergency room physicians. So why not prepare a fish using good judgement instead of attempting to make a fashion statement?

  103. That should not happen if you eat carefully...

  104. Having dense pieces of bread on hand when you eat whole fish is essential to help with bones stuck in the throat.

  105. We are heading for the Azores in a couple of months. I will try the fresh, whole fish there. It was an article in the Times that gave me the idea of going there.

  106. We shouldn't be eating ANY fish. Science has shown that they are sentient, they suffer fear and pain. Fishing and fish farming are grossly inhumane and environmentally destructive. All of the nutrients derived from fish, and from other animals, can be obtained more healthfully, humanely, and environmentally responsibly from plant sources. If you want seafood please opt from among the many marvelous vegan versions there are of virtually every type of seafood, and other foods, imaginable. Google: vegan seafood resources.

  107. Mary, thank you for your comment. It is not my perspective, but it has pricked my conscience.

  108. @MaryF This is about a fish recipe. If you feel so strongly, do not read the recipe.

  109. On a trip to Venazuela- yeah that place- a couple of years ago for breakfast one day we were served a whole fish. I have no idea what kind of fish it was. But it tasted like it had been caught that very morning. And it was sure bony. Didn't take me long to figure out the best way to eat this guy was with my fingers, picking the meat off the bones. It was SOOOOOO good. Better than any fresh salmon or halibut I have had here in the Pacific Northwest.

  110. Yes to whole fish. Yes! Yes! Yes! Snapper and grouper are the favorites in the house, sourced from the nearest monger or grocery. Works well with salt and pepper on olive oil. Add white wine, ginger, scallions, and lemon if you are feeling fancy. All it takes is about 15 minutes and viola, dinner. And yes, the cheeks and the eyes and the cavity by the stomach are the best parts. Pro-tip: leeks greatly neutralizes that fishy odor. A must if you are leaving in shoebox apartments like in New York.

  111. A small correction to the advice on how to eat it: When you are done with the first side, don't try to lift the spine up with the head – it will most likely leave a lot of bones in the chest segment of the fish. Instead, flip the whole fish over and eat the second side just like the first.

  112. I like to cook whole fish - but I wait for summer when I can do it outdoors on the grill. Frying and sautéing fish leaves a bad smell in the house. In winter I use the oven and sometimes the oven grill for crisping.

  113. While late night dining at a tony Naples restaurant last Spring, I did just that ordering the whole red snapper. The fish, the parts I could get to comfortably, tasted wonderful. Fortunately due to the late hour, the kitchen was kind enough to take it back and remove the bones for me. Caveat: Easier said than done!

  114. Nice and simple recipe which I enjoyed very much. I am surprised, though, that all this fuzz is being made about cooking a whole fish with bones and all... This should be the most normal thing in the world, but maybe this has something to do with the fact that I am in Europe. 18 min seems too long to cook for a fish, even if I cooked smaller Red Mullet instead of Red Snapper .

  115. Please mention in the recipe whether the fish needs to be turned over while searing in the skillet or not. I am not the only one puzzled by this.

  116. How would you know if the fish is looking at me?

  117. As the late Anthony Bourdain once said: "Put fish in oven. Done." How hard was that?

  118. Born and raised in the Caribbean having a fillet instead of the whole fish is the strange experience.

  119. No, the head of the fish is not edible and it is aesthetically offensive on the plate. What could this person be thinking to suggest otherwise? SHEESH

  120. In asia, whole fish is customarily served and considered aesthetically pleasing, as a fine fish could easily be substituted by other lesser fish if it were filet or chunk

  121. What this snapper is saying: "Where is the fish knife?? Don't come near me without a fish knife!"

  122. @ Frank S. Washington D.C. Excellent attention to detail! Or, instead of a fish knife and table fork, two fish forks, as seen in "Downton Abbey" table setting.

  123. To all the commentators of this exciting article. On Saturday, 1/26/2019, my wife and I went looking for a red snapper. Only yellow-tail snapper was locally available. The biggest and freshest we bought was small, 0.9 lbs. To the question of turning it over: in a large skillet on the stove, in olive oil, its lower side was too firmly attached to the frying pan, and we did not want to risk breaking the whole fish by trying to turn it over. The finishing was in the oven. The flesh was easy to separate from the backbone, but there were some small bones from near the head that had to be removed by the fingers. My overall judgement: not bad at all, but not exciting either. For the next experiment I shall try to find a bigger red snapper.

  124. My wife and I love Red Snapper. However it's not available on the west coast. It's almost fished out and only available in the Gulf states and probably NY. Makes me said. Great fish. We used to get it in the '90' in the West but no more.