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Cooking a Whole Fish

by Dee Andrews

Fresh dorado fish at the Central Mercado in Valencia, Spain.

I am determined to learn how to cook a whole fish while living in Spain. The fish counters at the local mercados are an experience in themselves. There are all kinds of whole fish, crabs, octopuses and even squirming eels. I have to take advantage of this array of fresh fish I tell myself!


I decided to start with dorado, a particularly mild white fish and very fresh and inexpensive here. It is known as sea bream, orata and dorade in other parts of the world. I asked the fishmonger to clean the fish for me and watched as the scales, fins and innards went into the garbage bin.

Later at home, a quick search on google took me to Helen Rennie at Beyond Salmon. The instructions and pictures on Helen’s cooking site were easy to follow, though my success did fall apart… with the fish… when I tried to lift the fillet from the bone. No pasa nada, it does not matter, I am learning to say!

I modified one of Helen’s fish recipes and used oranges and onions seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. With some quinoa on the side, it turned out to be quite a good dinner!

My Basic Recipe

• Wash, pat dry the fish; season with salt, pepper and olive oil.
• Make three slices in each side of the fish.
• Prepare the ingredients to accompany the fish, in my case oranges and onions, also tossed in salt, pepper and olive oil.
• Broil in the oven for 10-12 minutes per side.
• Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the back of the fish. If the fillet lifts from the bone, the fish should be done.
• Remove and let rest for 5 minutes.
• Serve. The tricky part! My fillets all fell apart, but I suppose with the oranges and onions on top it was less noticeable!

I also stumbled upon a fish recipe with cherry tomatoes that I thought I’d try next. My friends tell me the best Spanish recipes call for baking the fish in salt.

Dorado Fish with Oranges and Onions

Dorado Fish with Oranges and Onions

My husband asked me why I just didn’t have the fishmonger clean the whole thing and bring the fillets home to broil. I’m sure this would be much simpler, though I like to think they wouldn’t taste the same and they sure wouldn’t look as exotic. There’s something about the fish eye staring out between the orange and onion that gives me a feeling of satisfaction.

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Cooking a Whole Fish « Sieze el Día
May 24, 2010 at 11:16 am

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