Friday, April 12, 2013


I don’t know why but every time I see a whole fish this song verse pops into my head:

Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly, fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up, yum!

It’s a terrible song, it’s a stupid song, there’s nothing good about this song, but I’ve never forgotten it.  I think I remember it because it was one of the first music videos I ever saw. 

Here, watch Roly Poly Fish Heads if you would like in on the madness.  I must warn you however, that the song and video seem even more senseless then I remember.

Do you remember staying up late for Friday Night Videos...Hoping to see the new Banana Rama video?  Heck, do you remember when MTV played music videos?  What exactly do they air on MTV now a days?  Is this a case of, if I have to ask I’m too old to be watching it?  I'm thinkin'...yes.

I'm sorry for all the negativity; it’s just that I can’t get that ridiculous song out of my head!  If I got the stupid song stuck in your head, I’m sorry.  If you love the Roly Poly Fish Head song, I’m sorry.

Any hoo…Here’s how you make Whole Yellow Tail Snapper and Mango Relish.

I had a 12 ounce fish with the head on, which is enough for just one person.  If you want to make this a dinner for two, I would get a fish that is a little more than a pound and a half.  You will increase the oven cooking time to 14 to 18 minutes.

When you buy a whole fish; even if you ask for the head cut off, the fish monger may weigh it with the head on.  I take the head home and throw it into the freezer to make stock with later.

Bones = flavor, so if doesn't freak you out, leave the bones in the fish.   If it freaks you out, get the fish monger to remove the bones for you.

This is a small fish with really no space to stuff aromatics; so cut down just one side of the back bone, to get the fish to open up a little.  Be sure and have a super sharp knife to get really close to the back bone.

Salt and pepper the inside and drizzle a little olive oil in there as well.

Now lay the cilantro, lemon and onions over the inside of the fish.  If you have an aversion to cilantro, use flat leaf parsley.

I forgot to show you how I scored the skin.

Now heat some grape seed oil in an oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  

Lay the fish in the pan, skin side down.  The fish is too small to remain closed, so just lay it in the skillet open.  Cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, just to sear the skin.
You will know that it's done when you can shake the skillet and the fish doesn't stick to the bottom.

Transfer the fish to a 375 degree oven for 10 to 13 minutes. 

The fish is done when the bones can be easily removed.

The fish is mighty tasty just like this.

But if you want to get adventurous; remove the aromatics, they've done their job any how.

And top the fish with a little Mango Relish!
I served this with Peanut, Sesame Noodles

If you will be making the Mango Relish for the fish, be sure and make the relish first.

These are Honey Mangoes, they are about half the size of a regular mango.  If you only have a regular mango, use about half of it.

To cut a mango, slice down either side of the pit and discard that pit.  Cut those sides into strips, and remove the peels.  Now you can cut the mango how ever you like.

I diced the mango and onion quite small, and minced a jalapeno.

Taste the jalapeno first to see how hot it is, mine wasn't that hot so I used a whole jalapeno, without the seeds.  If you like it hot, use the seeds.

Now stick a fork in it!  The lime that it is.

Also add some honey, olive oil (I like the fruitiness it brings), sesame oil.

Stir in some cilantro (or flat leaf parsley), salt and pepper to taste.  
Mango Relish is great served over fish, shrimp, chicken, pork or fried tofu; it would also be great tossed into a salad.



Serves 1

1                                         Whole yellow tail snapper, about ¾ pound (mine was 3/4 pound with the head on), descaled and cleaned, head on or off is up to you
½             Tbsp.                    Olive oil
         Salt and Pepper, to taste
4              slices                    Lemon
2              slices                    Onion
1              handful                 Cilantro
1              Tbsp.                    Grape seed oil

   1.       Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.
   2.       If you like, you can get the fish monger to remove the bones for you.  If not then just cut really close, down one side of the back bone so that the fish can be opened up.  It will be waaay easier to fully remove the bones when the fish has cooked.
   3.       Score the skin of the fish with a knife a few times, without cutting too deeply into the flesh.
   4.       Open the fish up and drizzle ½ Tbsp. of olive oil over the inside flesh.  Season with salt and pepper, and lay the cilantro, lemon and onion inside of the fish.
   5.       Heat the grape seed oil in an oven proof skillet over medium high heat. 
   6.       The fish is too small to remain closed, so go ahead and leave it open.  Lay the fish skin side down in the skillet.  Cook it just to get a nice sear on the skin, about 2 ½ to 3 minutes.
   7.       Transfer the skillet to the oven to finish cooking for another 10 to 13 minutes.  When the bones are easily removed, the fish is done.
   8.       Transfer the fish to a serving platter, and if they’re not already, remove all the bones. 

Serve with rice, or Peanut, Sesame Noodles.

*The snapper is mighty tasty just like this; but if you would like to remove and discard the cilantro and onions that you cooked with the fish, and top the fish with Mango Relish.


Makes about 2 cups

1 ½           cups                     Mango, small dice; about 1 Honey mango or 1/2 a regular mango
¼                                        Small red onion, small dice
½-1                                     Jalapeno, minced; the seeds have heat, so with or without seeds is up to you
1                                         Lime, juice of
2              Tbsp.                    Honey
1               tsp.                     Olive oil
1/8            tsp.                     Sesame oil
1 ½           Tbsp.                    Cilantro or flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
                                          Salt and pepper to taste

   1.       Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Serve over fish, shrimp, chicken, pork or fried tofu; it would also be great tossed into a salad.


  1. Fishy fishy!! yuuuuumm! I love your adventurous take on fish. As much meat and seafood as I eat, you'd think I'd do more of the butchering myself, but like everyone I buy the already fillet-ed easy peasy cuts. You've definitely inspired me to get in there and use the whole animal. Gorgeous, my dear!

    1. Thanks Julia!
      You could totally do some butchering yourself, the key is a really good and sharp boning knife.

  2. I've never been brave enough to cook a whole fish like that. Super kudos to you.

    I've only heard that song once. Once was more than enough.

    1. I may have only heard the song once before as well, but it's haunted me ever since.