NYT Cooking

Grilled Whole Fish With Lemongrass, Chiles and Coconut

Course Main Dish
Cuisine Grilled


  • 4 whole dorade branzino or trout, cleaned, 1-pound
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fine sea salt more as needed
  • black pepper as needed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil softened or melted
  • 3 limes
  • 2 small shallots peeled
  • 1 cups bunch cilantro leaves and stems separated (about 2leaves)
  • 2 small stalks lemongrass halved lengthwise and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 cup mint leaves more for garnish
  • 1 Thai chile or 1 to 2 serrano chiles seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves grated on a Microplane or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Asian fish sauce more to taste
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon safflower or grapeseed oil


  • Season cavities and outside of fish with salt and pepper. Rub skin all over with coconut oil.
  • Thinly slice 1 lime and 1 shallot. Cut another lime into wedges and save for garnish. Fill each fish cavity with lime and shallot slices, a handful of cilantro stems (discard the rest) and the lemongrass.
  • Prepare the sauce: Coarsely chop the remaining shallot and juice the remaining lime. In a mini food processor, combine shallot, 1 tablespoon lime juice, the cilantro leaves, the mint, the chile, the garlic, the fish sauce and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse until herbs are chopped, then add coconut milk and oil. Continue to pulse until a coarse, chunky sauce forms. (Don’t overdo it; you want a relish-like texture, not a purée.) Taste and add more salt, fish sauce and/or lime juice if necessary. (Alternatively, chop everything really finely by hand and stir in the coconut milk and lime juice.) Sauce can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate until needed.
  • Light or heat the grill to medium-high heat. Place fish in basket and grill until blistered and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. (Poke the fish along the spine; it should be tender but still juicy.) Serve, garnished with lime wedges and mint leaves, with sauce on the side.
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