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Florida Seafood at your Fingertips LIVE: Grilled whole snapper and corn on the cob

Grilling is one of the most enjoyable ways to cook, and to grill a whole fish is one of my favorite recipes to prepare. It is easy, delicious, always impresses your guests, and can be done anywhere from a camp site to your home. I am excited to share this recipe with you in my upcoming cooking demonstration as part of the Seafood at your Fingertips LIVE series.

There are many ways to grill a whole fish. In this case, I am going to use a simple method that you will be able to follow along without any problems. This recipe takes no more than 40 minutes to prepare and does not require super grilling skills. It will, however, make you look like a master griller. When selecting a whole fish for grilling, choose a fish with a simple bone structure. Snapper is always my first choice, but there are other options, such as trout, bass, pompano, and many others. Read on for more about how to watch the demonstration and cook along with me.

How to watch

The grilled whole snapper cooking demonstration will take place at 6 pm EST on Wednesday, July 1st, via Facebook Live on the Florida Sea Grant Facebook page! If you cannot catch the demonstration live, all videos will be archived for future viewing at this page. I’ll be available live to answer your questions and respond to comments – I can’t wait to see you there!

How to cook along

This recipe is easy, so if you want to cook along you could. Just check out the ingredient list below and make sure you have what you need. You will also need to have your grill ready to go. You will want to set up your grill for a medium-high heat, that is about 4000F degrees (2050C). If you are using a charcoal grill, it will take 10 to 15 minutes to achieve this temperature after you dumped the lit coals into the grill, and the coals will be glowing bright orange with a faint layer of ash. During the demonstration, I will show you a simple method to assess the temperature of your grill without the need of a thermometer.

If you are using a fresh fish that you caught yourself, you will need to scrape off the scales, remove the gills, and gut the fish. If you are buying your fish from a fish market, your fish will be gutted already, but make sure that scales and gills have been removed. If you are using a frozen fish, defrost your fish in advance by placing the fish in the refrigerator the night before. The ingredients below will yield 4 servings of grilled whole snapper, though the number of servings really depends on the size of the fish that you are grilling.

Grilled snapper

For the fish:
  • 3 small fish weighing 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon of celery salt
  • ½ tablespoon of red pepper flakes
  • ½ tablespoon of paprika
  • ½ tablespoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of coarse salt
  • 2 or 3 limes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Aluminum foil
For the corn:
  • 5 ears corn
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon of coarse salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 lime
  1. Set up the grill for medium-high heat (4000F or 2050C).

For the corn:

  1. Pull the outer husks down to the base without removing completely, and remove the silk from each ear of corn. Fold husks back and place the ears of corn in a large bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Corn is ready when kernels feel tender if pierced with a sharp knife.
  3. Place the chili powder, ½ tablespoon of salt, and butter in a pot, melt and stir at low heat on the stove. Once the butter has melted, you can remove from stove and let it sit. Once the corn is ready, remove the husks and pour the butter on the corn.


For the fish:

  1. Rinse the fish under cold running water, and then blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Make a series of 3 or 4 deep parallel slashes to the bone.
  2. In a bowl, combine the celery salt, pepper flakes, paprika, black pepper, and coarse salt. Place the fish in a baking dish, and rub the fish with the spices, including the cavity of each fish. Cut two of the limes into wheels (thin oval slices), and place 2 or 3 pieces into the cavity of each fish. Remove outer shell of the garlic cloves, cut in slices and place some inside the cavity of fish and some inside the slashes on each side of the fish.
  3. Using a spoon and your hand, coat the fish with olive oil, inside and out.
  4. Cut one large sheet of aluminum foil per fish, place each fish on the sheet, and carefully wrap the fish in the foil.
  5. Place the fish on the grill, and cook for 6 to 10 minutes per side, depending on the size of the fish. To test for doneness, open a section of the foil, the flesh will come cleanly away from the bones when pried loose with the tip of a paring knife.

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