Grilled Salt-and-Pepper Black Bass with Curry Verde

Photo by Alex Lau, Prop Styling by Amy Wilson, Food Styling by Susie Theodorou

Learn how to cook a whole fish and you'll have summer's most impressive dinner in your back pocket. Two tips for grilling whole fish like a pro: Use two large metal spatulas to make turning it a lot easier, and season the entire fish—we’re talking head to tail and inside and out.

4 servings


    • 1 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided, plus more for grill
    • 1 Tbsp. vadouvan or other curry powder
    • 1 green chile (such as serrano or jalapeño), finely chopped
    • 1 (1") piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
    • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
    • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped cilantro, plus 1 cup leaves with tender stems
    • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, divided
    • Kosher salt
    • 2 (1 1/2–2-lb.) head-on black sea bass or other whole fish, cleaned
    • 8 scallions, 4 whole, 4 very thinly sliced on a diagonal
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Lemon wedges (for serving)
    • Flaky sea salt


    1. Prepare a grill for medium heat. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a small skillet over medium. Once oil is shimmering, stir in vadouvan and remove skillet from heat (it should foam a little). Let cool in pan.
    2. Combine curry oil, chile, ginger, garlic, chopped cilantro, and 2 Tbsp. lime juice in a small bowl. Season curry verde with kosher salt and set aside.
    3. Place fish on a cutting board and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels (inside and out). Using a sharp knife, make slashes crosswise on a diagonal along the body every 2" on both sides, cutting all the way down to the bones (this will help the fish cook evenly). Place fish and 4 whole scallions on a rimmed baking sheet; season fish generously inside and out with kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle fish and scallions with remaining 1/2 cup oil (this may seem like a lot, but it’s the best way to prevent the fish from sticking to the grate).
    4. Clean and oil grate, then immediately place fish and whole scallions on grill. Grill, turning scallions occasionally, until lightly charred all over, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Continue to grill fish, undisturbed, 8–10 minutes. Lift up slightly from one edge to see if skin is puffed and lightly charred and easily releases from grate. If fish is not ready, let it grill another minute or so, then try again. Once it releases easily, gently slide 2 large metal spatulas underneath and turn onto second side. Grill until the other side is lightly charred and skin is puffed, 8–10 minutes, depending on size of fish.
    5. Finely chop grilled scallions and add to reserved curry verde.
    6. Toss sliced scallions, cilantro leaves, and remaining 1 Tbsp. lime juice with a pinch of kosher salt in a medium bowl.
    7. Spoon curry verde on a platter and set fish on top. Scatter scallion mixture over and sprinkle with sea salt.

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