Whole Roasted Red Snapper

Serves 6 - 8

Don’t let this whole roasted fish recipe intimidate you! It’s fun, makes for a lovely dinner display and is easier than you might think. The very kind fishmongers at Santa Monica Seafood prepped our red snappers, but if you enjoy gutting and cleaning fish, then by all means go for it. You do you.


For the Paste:
¼ cup capers, drained
2 bunches of flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chili flakes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Fish:
2 pounds cherry tomatoes
4 lemons, sliced into ½” rounds
Two whole (3 pound) red snappers, cleaned and scaled
1 lemon, sliced into ¼” rounds
4 bay leaves


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Make the Paste:
In the bowl of a food processor, add the capers, parsley and chili flakes. Pulse a few times until roughly chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and then drizzle in the olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture reaches a paste consistency. Set aside.

Prepare the Fish:
Spread the cherry tomatoes and the ½ inch-thick lemon slices on a large sheet tray. Rinse off the red snappers and pat them dry. Place the fish on top of the tomatoes and lemons. Using a sharp knife, make 3 to 4 crosswise slashes on top of the skin. Spread the paste evenly on the fish and inside the slashes. Next, stuff the fish cavities with the ¼ inch-thick lemon slices and bay leaves. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily at the thickest part. 

To Serve:
Using a thin knife and starting just behind the head, cut along the backbone toward the tail. Lift the top fillet away from the bones with a spatula. Carefully lift the spine and then separate the bottom fillet.