We may well and truly be in the midst of Autumn here in Sydney, but the weather is still hot and humid as we languish through a seemingly endless Indian summer. In our busy household, lazy unscheduled Sundays are a rarity; particularly mid term as we lurch from one commitment to another. What to do with a precious free Sunday? In my books I can’t quite think of anything more perfect than a casual get together with friends around a seafood barbecue.
Of course, in our house at least, all the best seafood barbecues entail a visit to the busy and chaotic Sydney Fish Markets in Blackwattle Bay. To pick up a veritable bounty of scrupulously fresh seafood; this time a generous haul of fresh local prawns, oysters and whole snapper. It really is true, the fresher the fish, the less preparation is required to produce a delicious spread.
We served freshly shucked oysters au naturel with plenty of lemon, and giant whole cooked prawns in their shell with crusty baguette and a very rustic avocado salsa. All washed down with glasses of crisp dry white wine as the piece de resistance – a whole coriander, chilli and lime infused snapper was grilled to perfection on the barbecue. Simple, stunning and undeniably delicious. The only drawback? In all the impatient excitement of devouring that fish, all my best intentions of taking a happy snap of that grilled snapper in its plated glory completely flew out of my head. I know, I know, raw seafood as captured in the photo above isn’t all that pretty – but it’s honest and real. And perhaps not truly ugly.
Barbecued Whole Snapper With Coriander, Chilli And Lime
1 x 1.5 kg whole snapper, gutted, cleaned and scaled
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, dry roasted
2 long red chillies, finely sliced
1 bunch coriander, tender stems and leaves
finely grated zest and juice of one lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
RINSE snapper inside and out under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towel. Make 3 shallow cuts, 1cm-deep, in thickest part of each side of flesh.
USING a mortar and pestle, coarsely pound dry roasted cumin. Add chilli, three quarters of the bunch of coriander stems and leaves, lime zest and juice. Continue to pound to a rough paste. Stir through olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.
PLACE a large sheet of baking paper on top of a large sheet of foil on a flat surface. Place snapper in centre of paper.
SMEAR a generous amount of the coriander, chilli and lime marinade into the cavity of the snapper, and generously rub remaining marinade all over the outside of the fish.
FOLD baking paper and foil to enclose fish, scrunching outer layer of foil to secure. Place snapper parcel in fridge to chill for at least half an hour.
PREHEAT barbecue to medium-high with hood closed. Remove snapper parcel from fridge.
BARBECUE snapper parcel, with hood closed, for 12 – 15 minutes each side.
UNWRAP and check that snapper is cooked. Insert tip of a knife into the thickest part of the fish to check flesh is moist and flakes slightly. Rewrap and return to the barbecue for a few more minutes if necessary.
TRANSFER snapper to a serving plate. Top with remaining coriander stems and leaves. Serve with plenty of lime wedges and salad.