Mediterranean Grilled Whole Snapper with Fennel and a Pernod Butter Sauce

Total Time:
1 hr
35 min
25 min

4 to 6 servings

  • 1 whole red snapper, about 3 pounds, gills, gut and scales removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads fennel
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs oregano
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod
  • Reserved fennel leaves, from above
  • 6 tablespoons butter, in pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Preheat the grill to high.

  • Rinse the snapper in clean water. Pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Remove any large fins with sharp kitchen shears. Season the inside of the fish with salt and pepper.

  • Remove the leafy green tops from the fennel heads. Using the greens from 1 of the fennel heads, stuff the inside of the fish. Reserve the fennel bulbs and the remaining greens. Add the thyme and oregano and press closed. Make 3 diagonal slices on each side of the fillet. Cut down to the bone. Insert 1 lemon slice into each slit. Brush the whole fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

  • Clean the surface of the grill with a grill brush. Brush the surface of the hot grill with olive oil. Place the stuffed red snapper on the preheated grill at a 45 degree angle and cook for about 10 minutes or until the fish easily lifts off the grill. With 2 spatulas, carefully turn 90 degrees and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Turn fish and cook the other side to desired doneness, at least another 10 minutes. Do not overcook.

  • Meanwhile, cut the reserved fennel bulbs into 1/4-inch slices. Drizzle with olive oil and place on the grill. Grill until tender and golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and keep warm.

  • For the sauce: Place a small saucepan on the grill or on a burner over medium heat. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Add the lemon juice and Pernod and reduce by 1/3. With the remaining reserved fennel leaves, remove the tender inner leaves and chop finely. You should have about 1/4 cup chopped fennel. Set aside. Remove the water/lemon mixture from the heat and whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time. When the butter is incorporated, add the chopped fennel leaves and whisk well. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

  • When the fish is cooked and the flesh is opaque and lifts easily from the bone, carefully remove using 2 sturdy metal spatulas and place on a platter.

  • Serve the fish with some of the Pernod butter sauce and grilled fennel.

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