Introduction: Large Red Snapper on Weber Charcoal Grill
This is something I've always wanted to do since I picked up my Weber grill. I figured it would be really hard to do but it actually was a breeze.
Step 1: Acquire a Delicious Red Snapper
I picked up a 9 lb Red Snapper from my local fish monger. He gutted and cleaned it for me but I asked him not to scale it. I was told that cooking it with the scales would lock in the moisture. When it came time to cook it I chickened out and scaled it myself. This created a huge mess in my backyard. I'll never know if cooking it with the scales intact really keeps it moist because I'll never try it. Between the mess and the finished product being perfectly moist I just don't think it's worth finding out.
The fish was $9/lb and the one pictured was 9.9 pounds.
Step 2: Dress and Stuff Your Fish
First I rubbed the entire fish, outside and inside, with olive oil. Then I covered it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
The inside was filled with lemons, parsley and sliced raw onions. Put in as much as you like and as much as you can fit.
Step 3: Prepare Your Fish for Grill
I laid out aluminum foil on a table. I have narrow consumer level foil so I had to improvise a bit. First I laid out 2 strips going away from me with a slight overlap. Then I added 1 more perpendicular to that and long enough to cover the bottom of the fish as well as cover the top. This is what I placed the fish on. This way when I was done dressing her I pulled the long foil across the top of the fish and then pulled the two over that. Try to make it completely sealed, to lock in the moisture but roomy to allow the moisture to circulate.
Spread some olive oil on the foil. Then make a bed for your fish. This not only increases the edibles but keeps everything from sticking.
First lay down a bed of potatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick.
Add a layer of sliced onions.
Add a layer of lemons.
Add a layer of parsley.
Finally add your fish.
Then reverse the layer order on top of the fish without the potatoes.
So you end from bottom to top: Foil, potatoes, onions, lemons, parsley, fish, parsley, lemons, onions, foil.
Feel free to add a little more oil, salt, pepper and garlic, but not too much...let the fish shine.
Step 4: Grill Time
Before you start anything light your charcoal in a chimney. No lighter fluid please. I like to cook with lump charcoal and aromatic woods, usually apple wood soaked for a couple hours in water. But I really wanted a pure tasting fish so I went with simple briquettes and no smoking. If I really wanted a pure taste I could have just cooked it in the oven but it was 95 degrees out and I didn't want to turn on the oven. Plus what's the fun in that? So on the Weber with briquettes it is. When I do it again I'm using lump charcoal and smoke. But with all this being said it still had a wonderful smokey flavor that was just detectable without being dominant. Some people sensed it others didn't.
I only used about 30 briquettes and put them on one side of the grill. I put the fish on the other side and put the lid on it. This method is called indirect heat.
PLEASE NOTE: Do not pick up your fish by the foil. It will fail and make a mess of your prep. Always pick up your fish from the bottom and transfer on cutting boards or cookie sheets.
In total the fish was on for about 2 hours. I used low heat. The dome thermometer was reading 350 but a probe on the other side of the fish never broke 270. About half way through I added some more charcoal and opened the foil up. When you open the foil try to maintain a bowl structure to keep all the juices and not make a mess of your grill.
Step 5: Rest Time
Once you think your fish is ready give it a taste. I tried a little piece from the belly and it was perfect. It should be flaky and white. Take it off the grill, seal the foil back up and let it sit about 15 minutes.
Step 6: Enjoy
I made two cuts to the spine the size of the serving you want then across along the spine. Lifted that off the fish and onto the plate. This was hard to do neatly but it gets easier as you go. I started on the head side but I think if I started from the tail it would have been easier. May be it's because I'm a lefty, not sure.
I had mine with some bread, avocado salad and a Corona. Fantastic.