Whole Roasted Fish Basquaise

How many times and in how many ways can I say this? Fish tastes better with the bone! As any cook in any serious food culture of any generation knows, the head – and the meat right behind it – is the tastiest fish there is. You know the old adage that the closer the meat is to the bone, the sweeter it is? It is not a lie. So please free yourself! Cast off your shackles and follow the great sweep of recorded culinary history. Start with this recipe…

Remark : We love Tony’s recipes, but we also try to avoid fish on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List. Go ahead and substitute striped bass or black bass in this recipe.

Ingredients (12)

  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth or light chicken broth
  • 1 red snapper, about 2 pounds, scales removed, gills removed, fins clipped, guts removed, but otherwise intact
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the potatoes in a small saucepan and cover them with water. Add salt to taste and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. The potatoes should still be firm. Remove them from the water and set aside.
  2. On the stove, heat the olive oil in a roasting pan until it is almost sizzling. Add onions and peppers and cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender and golden. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge all that good stuff. Stir in the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper inside and out. After the broth and vegetables have boiled for 5 minutes, place the fish in the pan, add the potatoes and bake everything. Cook for about 30 minutes, basting the fish with the cooking juices 2 or 3 times during cooking.
  4. Change the oven setting to broil, remove the pan from the oven and remove the fish from the roasting pan. Place the fish on a baking sheet and broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the skin turns brown and crispy. Keep an eye on it: you don’t want to burn the thing. Transfer the fish to a serving platter. Add the lemon juice to the mixture of peppers and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. After a quick heat and a stir or two, pour the mixture over and around the fish. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

To note: Don’t overlook cheeks, meat at the collar, or flaky bits between the bones. Feel free to eat with your hands.

Now think of all the ways you can improvise on this dish.

Drink pairing: A crisp, clean white from País Vasco or the Basque region of northern Spain would be an ideal accompaniment to this roast fish. Txakoli or Txakolina (pronounced cha-ko-leena), a floral, crisp and slightly sparkling white from the Spanish Basque country, would be an ideal pairing. Try the Etxaniz Txakoli Txomin 2004.

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