Whole Grilled Fish With Spicy Ginger Glaze

Whole Grilled Fish With Spicy Ginger Glaze

Cuisine of southeastern Asia.

| Published:

The cuisine of the hot and humid climates of southeastern Asia combines fresh ingredients with the simple yet potent flavors of lime, ginger, garlic, chilies and soy and fish sauces. They all come together in this dish, which is perfect for the grill, looks great and is at its best with very fresh fish. The key is to preheat the metal bars of the grill rack in order to achieve a searing char on the fish. This is an important component of the flavor as well as the presentation.


(Serves 4)

4 one-pound whole branzini, dorade or similar fish, gutted, head on
Canola oil

For the Sauce:

½ cup canola oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup sugar
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon finely julienned fresh ginger
¼ cup finely julienned red bell pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon spicy bean paste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 Thai chili, sliced (leave any seeds that don’t fall away in slicing)
Cilantro for garnish


1. Assemble ingredients.     

2. Score each side of the fish with four small, shallow incisions. Lightly coat each fish in canola oil on both sides.       

3. To prepare the sauce, place the ½ cup canola oil and garlic in a small pot. Place on medium heat and simmer until garlic starts to turn brown. Remove from heat. Remove garlic from pot and discard.

4. Place sugar, lime juice and vinegar in another small pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for one minute. Add fish sauce, ginger, red bell  pepper, soy sauce, spicy bean paste, sesame oil, Thai chili and 3 tablespoons of the garlic oil. Simmer for about 3 minutes.

5. Heat the grill to medium high, or prepare coals if you are using a charcoal grill (see Tips). Lay the fish on the grate and cook approximately 2 minutes on a side (depending on the size), searing each side.

6. Transfer fish to a baking sheet lined in parchment paper (not aluminum foil).

7. Spoon a little of the sauce over the seared fish (about 2 tablespoons per fish). Bake in 350-degree oven for 18 minutes (check after about 12 minutes, as cooking time may vary).        

8. Transfer fish to serving plate, placing it on a bed of cilantro. Spoon the remaining sauce to taste over the fully cooked whole fish. One small fish will be perfect as an entrée for one person; share a large fish between two people.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Preheat grill on medium high. Make sure the grate is clean and well lubricated with vegetable oil. If you are using a charcoal grill, lay the grate over the hot coals for at least 5 minutes before cooking the fish.

To check for doneness of the fish: Insert a small knife into the thickest part of the flesh to make sure it’s opaque.

Be mindful of the bones. The fish can be left whole and eaten by pulling apart the flesh with chopsticks or a fork. Alternatively, the head, tail and bones can be removed carefully.

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