Roasted Whole Snapper with Ginger and Cilantro

I grew up eating whole fish from time to time. We would eat fillets mostly because it was easier and it is more difficult to find whole fish at regular grocery stores like Safeway/Food Lion/Giant/whatever. We only ever had whole fish when my grandfather caught some. I thought it was a little weird back then, but as I've gotten older I've learned that whole fish is the way to go.

This was my fiance's first time ever having whole fish. He grew up in a very Caucasian household, so I understand. I brought it out to the table and he said "How do you eat it" and I laughed. I had to explain that we would just take vegetables and pull of some fish in our rice bowl and come back as we desired. He enjoyed it, and it was a cute experience.

  • 1 whole red snapper (1.5 lbs or so)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 2 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro
  • touch of sesame oil
  • salt and pepper
  • desired vegetables (I used bean sprouts, napa cabbage and carrots)
  • Rice for serving
  1. Clean and scale your fish. Cut about 3 or 4 diagonal slits in each side almost to the bones.
  2. Mix together the fresh ginger, garlic, cilantro, sesame oil. Rub mixture in the slits in the fish
  3. Season inside and out of fish with salt and pepper.
  4. Prop the fish up by splaying the belly flaps on a sheet pan. Prop a ball of aluminum foil under the tail if necessary. The fish should stand upright. 
  5. Roast fish at 350 for about 25 minutes. The skin should be a little crisp. You can crank the oven higher at the end if you desire for extra crispy skin.
  6. Cook your vegetables as desired. Serve fish with vegetables, rice.
Note: you can also make a dipping sauce with equal parts rice vinegar and light soy sauce, but it's really not necessary.


  1. My goodness, this is my kind of dish. I love fish - especially snapper - and occasionally I buy whole ones at my fishmonger. This is definitely a dish I'm going to try next time.

    1. Thank you! This dish is super easy to make and delicious. Hope you give it a try next time.


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