Grilled Whole Fish with Lemongrass & Lime Leaves

This salt crusted & lemongrass stuffed fish is one of my newest BBQ favourites. We fell in love with it when we were in Thailand last year and were only too happy to discover it on the menu of Chachawan down the road in Sheung Wan.

I tend not to have a plan on what I want to buy on the way to Gage Street wet market, instead I let what’s fresh and looking good in the seafood stalls inspire dinner’s direction. Today’s sea bream was looking super fresh, so I picked up some lemongrass, coriander and lime leaves with the rest of my weekly vegetable top up. With such a beautiful clear sky weekend, it was a perfect afternoon to fire up the BBQ and remind myself how much I love grilling. This recipe takes no time at all to prepare and is an easy one to stick on the grill. Try it with any whole fish that works well on a grill, with the skin still on. Most importantly, make sure that the fish is fresh! I learned what to look out for in fresh fish from my mother on our frequent trips to the Sai Kung wet market when I was growing up in Clear Water Bay. In a nut shell, make sure there is no smell, clear bright eyes and red gills. Ask the fish monger to descale it for you and remove the insides [or “take out the dirty” as my lady fish monger likes to say it]

The salt crust seals in the juicy flavours and prevents it from drying out, leaving the fish skin nice and crispy… but it is really the lemongrass and lime leaves that do all heavy work for you, infusing the fish meat perfectly with a delicate citrus aromatic flavour. 

Lemongrass and lime leaf

BBQ Grilled Lemongrass Fish

Grilled lemongrass sea bream fish

INGREDIENTS

Time: 5   mins – Preparation, 10 mins – Cooking

  • x1 fresh whole fish good for grilling [descaled and insides removed]

  • x2 lemongrass stalks

  • x4-5 washed lime leaves

  • Small bunch of coriander

  • Rock sea salt, generous amount to coat the fish

  • Fish grill basket

METHOD

  1. Wash the inside and outside of the fish, dab it dry with a kitchen towel.

  2. Take the lemongrass stalks and slice the root end a few times so it frays [bit like a paint brush], this will help the aromatic flavours infuse.

  3. Stuff the lemongrass with the root end inside the fish cavity, with the stalk tips sticking out the mouth, also stuff the cavity with the lime leaves.

  4. Rub the skin of the fish with rock salt until it is covered completely.

  5. Place the fish in a fish grill basket and lock the grill.

  6. Put the fish basket on the grill on a high heat, turn over and grill the other side after 5-6 minutes.

  7. Use a knife to slit a small section of the fish to check it is cooked through to the bone. When cooked, unlock the fish basket carefully and gently lift the fish onto a plate.

    If cooked right, the meat should just lift off the bone with ease. Try not to over cook the fish so the meat dries out and make sure to brush off the excess crusted salt from the fish skin.