A lot of people like to eat whole fish, but do not like the unpleasant task of gutting and cleaning the fish. They would rather purchase fish fillets. Growing up, we ate a lot of fish. And, my mother seldomly bought fish that was already filleted. That meant someone had to gut and clean the fish for food preparation. I remember the first time my mother ever had me scale and gut a whole fish. “Use a fork to scale the fish, then cut it open and pull the guts out,” my mother told me. A fork? Ok, but yuck! I remember taking the fork and scraping the fish — scales went flying everywhere. But a fork worked. Then, it was time to try to figure out how to open up the fish. But, where I do you start? I had watch my mom do this hundreds of times with ease. Still, I had to ask her how to do it. Yeah, my mom showed me the secret to gutting a fish: You cut it open from the vent and move upwards. The fun part was removing the guts by reaching in and grabbing them right at the base of the head, where you will feel everything connect and then pinch that spot and pull the whole thing out. It took me years of practice to get it to come out in one piece. Oh, and don’t forget to remove the fish gills! Cleaning and gutting a fish isn’t the most pleasant chore when preparing to eat whole fish. But, oh, meals you can prepare with a whole fish!
- 1 (2 1/2-pound) fish, such as rock cod, snapper or bass, scaled, gutted and gills removed
- olive oil
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 3 stalks green onions, chopped
- 1/2 bundle of cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons fish patis
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make 3 diagonal slices about 1/2-inch deep on each side of the fish. Season the fish, both inside and out, with salt and olive oil. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, green bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic and patis. Place the mixture inside the body cavity, saving some of the mix for later. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil. Place the fish on top. Fold the aluminum foil up around the sides of the fish to create a sort of baking dish. Top the fish with remaining mixture. Place in the preheated oven and bake until the fish is cooked through and flakes, about 45-60 minutes.