Episode 207: Tex Meets Mex

Whole Grilled Snapper in Pipian Sauce

Whole Grilled Snapper in Pipian Sauce

A whole snapper grilled on a salt slab, served with a Mexican grilled vegetable and pumpkin seed sauce called pipian.

Other Recipes from Episode 207: Tex Meets Mex


Whole Grilled Snapper in Pipian Sauce

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 2
  • Method: Indirect grilling
  • Equipment: Toothpicks; 1 1/2 cups of wood chips, soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes, then drained (optional); fish grilling basket (optional)


For the Fish

  • 2 whole snapper, cleaned, preferably with heads-on, each about 2 pounds
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise into rings
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 1 poblano chile (green or red), halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Grilled lime halves, for squeezing

Recipe Steps

1: Prepare the fish: Generously season the cavities of the fish with salt and pepper, then stuff with the onion, garlic, cilantro, and chile. Pin the cavities shut with toothpicks.

2: Brush the outside of the fish with olive oil, then make three diagonal, parallel slashes on the top side of each to facilitate even cooking.

3: Set up your grill for indirect grilling, preferably using wood as fuel. (If you cannot build a wood fire, use wood chips.) Heat to medium-high.

4: Arrange the stuffed fish on the grill grate, slashed sides up. Divide the soaked wood chips, if using, between the two piles of coals. Put the lid on the grill.

5: Indirect grill the fish until it is tender and the internal temperature is at least 145 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes, or as needed. Carefully transfer the fish to a platter using a wide spatula. Spoon the Pipian Sauce over or under the fish. Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds reserved from the sauce recipe. Serve with grilled limes halves for squeezing.

Recipe Tips

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Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2019 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein.