Roasting a whole fish is so easy and so tasty, I have no idea why I do it so rarely. Actually I do. Fish is a buy-same-day-you-cook-it food, and I only ever have such a chance on a Saturday, and lots of Saturdays I have evening plans that involve not being home.
Buying a fish from the grocery store is always a gamble, not because of the quality but because the people behind the counter rarely have a clue and can’t perform such tasks as descaling nor can they answer the question “Is that fish descaled?” If I had the tools and skills for descaling a fish, I could confidently eat whole fish all the time. Instead, I eat it only on Saturdays when I can go to a fish monger.
Excuses and excuses. Roasting a fish is as easy as roasting vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, roast in a pre-heated oven until it looks done. Easy.
The recipe says 350°F for 30 minutes, but those numbers are for a larger fish than I would buy. It also says to broil for a few minutes at the end, but my gas stove has no broiler, so I just crank up the gas, and cook in the bottom of the oven. Using a pan with a rack is key to keep the skin crispy and thus easy to peel away, making the fish as easy to eat as to prepare.
I have a mouthwatering recipe for roasted fish in my Les Halles Cookbook that calls for braising vegetables and reducing wine, which all sounds amazing, but is 300% more work than my version which, as you can guess, is the one described in The Joy of Cooking.
I served the fish with a minimalistic fennel salad.