Thai Basil Red Snapper

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Don’t be afraid of WHOLE FISH! It’s so easy and quick. 

Few tips when buying whole fish :

  • Pick fish that’s currently in season
  • Look for fish with clear eyes and avoid fish with white cloudy eyes. (clearer the eyes, fresher the fish)
  • Smell the fish!  (Should not smell fishy)
  • Look for a shine.  Shinier the fish, fresher the fish
  • Look for bright red gills
  • Press the fish. Is it firm?  (Firmer fish = fresher fish)


Use this recipe as a guide.  Really easy to be flexible with whatever you have in your pantry:

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch Thai Basil (you can substitute regular basil if you need)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1-2 shallots
  • 3-4 Chili Pepper (Hot)
  • 1-2 limes
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • Few cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • ¼ red cabbage
  • 1 bunch Mint 
  • 1 whole red snapper (or whatever whole fish freshest and in season)
  • 1-2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce 
  • 1-3 tablespoons oyster sauce 


With gutted whole fish score the skin slightly

Fish and Vegetable Marinade

Combine juice of one lime, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, 1 tablespoon fish sauce in bowl, mix and cover the fish with half.  Also, stuff cavity of fish with combo of basil, cilantro and few slices of fresh limes.  Let it sit in fridge and marinate for at least 30 minutes. 

Chop and slice your shallots, onions, garlic, and ginger. Also, slice red cabbage and marinade with a combo of soy and chili sauce and set aside.

Now, out to the grill.   Use a fish cage that really helps when grilling fish — it makes the process really easy.  I also out one piece of wood in my wood box on my gas grill to give it a firewood grilled taste. 

At this point I’d let fish come to room temperature and grill till 135 degrees.  This would take about 12 minutes on each side.  

In sauté pan add shallots, onions, garlic, ginger, pepper and sauté for 5 minutes until just soft.  Then add rest of marinade to vegetables.

Then tun down heat and before serving add fresh Thai basil, cilantro, and cabbage.  (you can add cabbage earlier too if you prefer it to be softer)

To serve place fish on serving plate and top with saluted vegetables

I also like to serve with a bed of jasmine rice to soak up that Thai basil sauce!