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A whole barbecued fish is a fantastic centrepiece for any summer gathering.
Stuff it with lemon and fresh herbs and you’re on your way to a simple yet delicious feast.
1 x whole 3kg snapper gutted, cleaned and descaled
quarter of an onion
5-6 sprigs of thyme
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons capers, very finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets (if you’re not an anchovy fan you can leave them out)
2 large gherkins, diced finely
2 large handfuls Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped finely
1 large handful basil leaves, chopped finely
1 small handful fresh mint, chopped finely
juice 1 medium lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salsa verde: Place the garlic, capers, anchovies (if using), gherkins and chopped herbs in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, mustard and vinegar and mix well. Add the olive oil in a steady stream while you whisk, until you have a loose, almost pesto-like consistency. Season to taste. Store in the fridge until required, but bring to room temperature before using. (This can be made up to a day before and kept in the fridge. Salsa verde also goes very well with roasted and barbecued meats and grilled vegetables.)
Fish: Remove the fish from the fridge to bring it up to room temperature before cooking. Season the inside with salt and pepper. Halve the lemons through the middle. Cut one half into thin rounds and set the remaining halves aside.
Peel and thinly slice the onion. Place inside the fish with the lemon slices and thyme sprigs. Tuck it all in tightly. Make 3-4 slashes in the flesh of the fish on each side and place a teaspoon of the salsa verde in and around the slashes.
Barbecue the fish on medium high heat for 10-12 minutes each side until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Grill the remaining lemon halves flesh side down until they have good char marks.
Serve the fish on a large platter with the grilled lemons, and the salsa verde on the side.
Tip: If you’re worried about the fish sticking to the barbecue, wrap it in tinfoil and seal tightly.