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Recipe  •  24 March 2022

 

Grilled branzino

A favourite fish recipe from Joshua Weissman.

I learned this genius grilling technique for fillets of fish when I worked at Uchiko. Rather than setting it directly on the grates and going into a deep panic when it sticks, you instead use a greased wire rack to easily manoeuvre the fish around the heat source. This helps the fish maintain contact with the heat until it’s browned enough to release. Don’t tell anyone I told you this secret. Also, yes, you should be eating the skin.

Prep time 25 minutes + making pickles (if desired)
Cook time 15 minutes
Serves 4

  • ¼ cup (4g) cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup (5g) Thai basil leaves
  • ¼ cup (8g) mint leaves
  • ¼ cup (26g) thinly sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup (000g) pickled red onions
  • Flaky sea salt, to serve
  • Chili oil, to drizzle
  • Lime wedges (optional), to serve

Coconut broth:

  • 1 (14 fl oz/400ml) can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2-inch (5-cm) piece fresh galangal or ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp (12g) palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Fish:

  • 4 fillets branzino (about 000 oz/000g total), scaled and skin-on
  • Cooking spray, to coat
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Make the coconut broth. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, lemongrass, shallot, and galangal. Heat over medium heat just until steamy and hot. Turn off the heat, and cover to steep for

12 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl, and discard the solids. Whisk in the fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Keep the broth hot in the saucepan.

In a small bowl, toss together the cilantro, Thai basil, mint, green onion, and pickled red onions. Cover with a lightly damp paper towel, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat 1 side of the grill to medium-high, and keep the other side completely off. Let the grill preheat with the lid closed for 10 minutes.

Generously spray a grill-safe, 8 x 10-inch (20 x 25-cm) wire rack with cooking spray. Prepare the fish. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels, and spray the skin lightly with cooking spray. Season both sides of each fillet with salt to taste. Place the fillets skin-side down on the wire rack. (You can usually fit 1 or 2 fillets on 1 wire rack, so cook them in batches or with 1 additional wire rack as needed.)

Once the grill is hot, place the wire rack with the fish directly over the hot side of the grill. Let the fish grill for about 3 minutes, checking the skin intermittently, until the skin is completely crisp and lightly charred

and you can see the fish is cooked about halfway up the flesh. Using a thin spatula, carefully flip the fish. Cook skin-side up, until the fish is JUST barely cooked through, another 30 to 60 seconds. In the event the fish is cooking too quickly, shift the rack toward the cold side of the grill. Once cooked, remove from the grill and let rest on a cutting board, uncovered and skin-side up, while you cook any remaining batches.

For serving, add about ½ inch (1.25cm) of hot broth to 4 small, deep plates or very shallow serving bowls. Gently lay the fish flesh-side down into the broth. Top the fish with the herb mixture and flaky salt. Finish with a drizzle of chili oil. Enjoy with lime wedges on the side (if using).

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