Grilled Whole Fish Wrapped In Fig Leaves

Despite the fact that we live in Umbria half a year where pork is king, I love seafood of any kind, and when I am able to buy very fresh fish and shellfish I do. We have a couple of local grocery stores that stock fresh seafood brought in daily from the coast during week days, so I am lucky enough to be able to buy great seafood when needed (or when the craving hits). One of our favorite seafood choices recently is whole fish, about one pound each that we either roast in the oven or cook on the grill as I do in this recipe. A one pound fish is the perfect size for one person, and they cook up fairly quickly. We usually choose branzino, or orata here in Italy, but any small fish such as snapper or sea bass will do. To prepare my fish for the grill, I simply have them cleaned by my fish monger, wash them, dry them and stuff them with lemon slices and a sprig of oregano. I then wrap my fish in fig leaves and tie the leaves in place with kitchen twine. If you do not have access to fig leaves, grape leaves would also work. The leaves just help to steam the fish and keep the moisture in. Once cooked, I simply snip off the string and peel away the leaves to reveal the delicate flesh of the fish. I serve my fish with either lemon wedges, or the piquant green sauce in the recipe below.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2012

Grilled Whole Fish Wrapped In Fig Leaves

This method of cooking small, whole fish on the grill, keeps them moist and delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Whole Sea Bass About 1 Pound Each
  • 2 Thinly Sliced Lemons
  • 4 Small Springs Fresh Oregano
  • 8 Large Fig or Grape Leaves
  • Kitchen Twine

Piquant Sauce:

  • Juice From 1 Large Lemon
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove, Peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Capers
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry the fish, then layer lemon slices inside along with one sprig or oregano per fish.
  2. Wrap the leaves in place around the fish as shown in the photos, and tie in place with kitchen twine.
  3. Preheat your grill, either charcoal or gass to medium heat.
  4. Place the fish on the grill, and cook 10 minutes each side.
  5. While the fish is cooking, place the sauce ingredients into a bowl and use an immersion blender or hand wand to blend.
  6. Once cooked, trim the twine and peel off the leaves.
  7. Carefully lift off the skin on one side of each fish, and lift out the fillet onto a plate.
  8. Turn the fish over, and do the same thing on the other side, discarding the spine and skin.
  9. Continue to clean each fish in the same manner.
  10. Spoon some of the sauce over each plate and serve immediately.