Grilled Whole Snapper with Light Lemon-Herb Cream Sauce

Grilled Whole Snapper with Light Lemon-Herb Cream Sauce

I’m sure folks will think I’m nuts for cooking something like this on a Friday evening after work, but that’s the whole point – this was easy! I called my fishmonger in advance, so the fish was all prepped and pretty for me to pick up on the way home. Then, all I had to do was oil it, season it, shove in some lemon and herbs, and throw it on the grill. Made a light lemony sauce while it cooked, and VOILA!

Grilled Whole Snapper with Light Lemon-Herb Cream Sauce

  • 2 whole yellow-tail or red snapper, ~1-1.5 pound each (1 fish serves 2 people)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 lemons, sliced into thin rounds
  • handful fresh herbs (I used oregano, parsley, and thyme)
  • Light Lemon-Herb Cream Sauce (recipe below)

Have the fish guy gut and de-scale the fish for you.

While the grill is heating to high heat, prep the fish…Take the fish and trim off the fins with kitchen scissors. With your sharpest knife, cut three slits through the skin on each side. Rub the whole outside of the fish with olive oil. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Put the sliced lemon and herbs in the cavity.

Oil the grill. I use my kitchen tongs to hold a balled-up paper towel dipped in olive oil, but this is an important step or the fish skin will stick to the grill and tear. Sear the first side of the fish for 2 minutes, then the other. Then move the fish to indirect heat for 10-15 minutes or until just cooked through.

While the fish is cooking, make the Light Lemon-Herb Cream Sauce (recipe below).

To serve, gently filet the fish. With a sharp knife, cut along the backbone and up the centerline, and then use a spatula to lift the filet off. Put it on the plate with the skin side down. With your fingers, quickly go over it to pull out any bones that carried over. Then spoon on a little sauce (see pic below). Serves 4.

Light Lemon-Herb Cream Sauce:

  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T flour
  • ½ t kosher salt
  • pinch fresh cracked pepper
  • ½ c milk (skim or 1%)
  • ½ t fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ t fresh lemon zest
  • 1 t fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used parsley, thyme, and oregano)

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in flour and cook over medium heat until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly, and cook, until mixture thickens – it will thicken within a minute or two. Be sure to stir constantly because with using skim or reduced fat milk for a sauce like this, the sauce will curdle if it boils. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, lemon peel, and herbs. Serve over fish.

Note: for larger fish, obviously up the cooking time. For a 5-pounder, do ~15 minutes on indirect heat. With larger fish, I have gone up to 30 minutes. 


Grilled Whole Snapper with Light Lemon-Herb Cream Sauce

I’m new to food photography – next time I’ll have to make sure I take out the bones before I take the picture 🙂

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