Whole Grilled Sea Bass with Asian Aromatics

Whole Grilled Sea Bass with Asian Aromatics

This sea bass recipe was inspired by a traditional Cantonese wedding banquet dish. The traditional dish is a whole fish, steamed, topped with Chinese aromatics and then doused with scalding hot oil, so that the garlic, ginger, and scallion are fried right onto the fish. Instead of steaming the fish, this recipe grills the bass on a cedar plank. 


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Whole Grilled Sea Bass with Asian Aromatics

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Makes 2 whole fish, enough to serve 4
  • Equipment: 2 small bamboo skewers or toothpicks; 2 large cedar grilling planks


  • 2 whole Santa Barbara sea bass or other whole fish (about 2 pounds each), cleaned and trimmed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 3 jalapeno chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced
  • 6 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons thinly slivered fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 5 tablespoons sesame oil plus more for brushing the fish

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Prepare the fish: Make 3 slashes in each side of the fish. (This helps the fish cook more evenly.) Generously season the inside of the fish with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of each fish with a lemongrass stalk, jalapenos, scallion, garlic, lime slices, and ginger slices. (The remaining aromatics go on at the end). Pin the cavities shut with small bamboo skewers or toothpicks. Brush the outside of the fish with sesame oil and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Step 2: Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high (400 degrees). When grill is hot, char the cedar planks directly over the fire. This will take about 5 minutes.

Step 3: Let the planks cool, then arrange the fish on the charred sides. Place the planks on the grill over the drip pan away from the heat. Indirect grill the fish until browned and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness: The internal temperature will be about 135 to 140 degrees.

Step 4: When the fish is cooked, transfer it on the planks to a heatproof platter. Sprinkle the remaining chiles, scallions, garlic, and slivered ginger on top. Heat the remaining 5 tablespoons of sesame oil in a small saucepan almost to smoking. (Do this on your grill’s side burner or on the stove.) Immediately, drizzle the hot oil over the aromatics on top of the fish. It will cook them in an aromatic blast of sizzle and smoke. Serve the fish at once.

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