It doesn't get any simpler than grilled whole fish. Preparing and eating it practically transports you back to our hunter-gatherer days or a beach vacation. Of course, back then we would likely count ourselves extremely lucky to have assembled such a wonderful array of delicious ingredients: fresh fish, ripe pineapple and mango, spicy peppers, and flavorful herbs. Colorful and healthful, quick and delicious, who could ask for anything more?
The trickiest part here is proper grilling. Every grill is a little different, with grills ranging in design, functionality, and fuel. While fish is simple to do on just about any setup, it does require attention and a gentle hand, especially when cooking directly on the grill grate close to the heat. If you're concerned about your fish sticking to the grill then, by all means, wrap it in some foil or in banana leaves. The skin of the fish won't take on quite as much grilled flavor, but at least there's no chance of disappointment with overcooked fish that's falling apart.
- For the Tropical Salsa:
- 1 mango, peeled, seeded, and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
- 1 cup pineapple chunks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 Fresno chile pepper, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh habanero pepper, minced
- 1/2 medium red onion, cut into a small dice
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/4 cup cilantro with leaves and stems, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground Szechuan red pepper
- For the Fish:
- 2 whole grouper (lapu lapu, or similar flaky white fish)
- Peanut oil
- Optional: 1 tablespoon Cambodian amok dry spice blend
- Salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
Gather the ingredients.
Add all the tropical salsa ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine.
Preheat the grill over medium-high heat.
Drizzle the fish with peanut oil, season it inside and out with the amok spice (if using) and salt and pepper, and drizzle it again with a little oil.
Place the fish on the preheated grill and cook for a few minutes per side. Watch closely. The fish cooks quickly and must be flipped gently to avoid breaking it apart. Check for doneness by inserting a knife or fork in the middle near the spine and watching how easily the meat flakes away from the bones.
When cooked through, gently remove the fish to a platter and scatter the tropical salsa on top. Serve immediately.
- The Cambodian amok spice called for here is basically a blend of lemongrass, lime leaves, turmeric, and a little bit of spicy chili pepper. If you can't find it in the store, you could buy the fresh ingredients and make a paste, or simply choose a different seasoning. You can even go simple and just use salt and pepper.