Whole Roasted Fish with Clams and Spicy Scallion Relish

Whole FishA whole fish is an impressive entrée, especially this one roasted with clams and red peppers and topped with spicy scallion relish. It’s a fresh, vibrant meal that’s gorgeous to look at and has so much more flavor than a boneless, skinless fillet. Don’t be intimidated by cooking a whole fish; it’s actually quite easy and hassle free. A whole fish can be grilled, or roasted in the oven as shown here, with extra goodies like clams and veggies.

The clams in this recipe are more like a garnish, adding iron, copper, and selenium to the meal. The red pepper is the requisite veggie and could be accompanied by thinly sliced fennel, carrots or zucchini. The spicy scallion relish gives this dish some attitude. The longer the relish sits, the bolder it tastes, so make it a day ahead if you can.

Visit your local fish shop to see what’s available and fresh. When shopping for a whole fish, look for clear, bright eyes and shiny scales. To make life easier, ask the fishmonger to clean the fish for you (leaving the head on.) When you buy a whole fish, plan to cook it within a day so it’s as fresh as possible.

Serves: 2

Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour



  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions, green parts only (save the white bottoms) (about 100 g)
  • 1 jalapeno or other small hot pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, plus a handful of extra sprigs (15 ml)
  • 1/4 cup cold-pressed high-oleic/high-stearic sunflower oil (60 ml)
  • 2 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar (10 ml)
  • 1 whole fish (2 pounds/900g or slightly less), cleaned with the head left on
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • A dozen or so clams
  • 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock (120 ml)
  • Several tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper


Mix together the scallions, hot pepper, tablespoon of cilantro, sunflower oil and rice vinegar. Add a pinch of salt. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 475 ºF (245 ºC)

Line a baking pan with foil, leaving enough hanging over the edges so you can fold it up and over the top of the fish.

Pat the fish dry and set on the baking pan. Cut angled slits across each side of the fish, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Cut deep enough to expose the flesh, but don’t go all the way down to the bone. Rub the fish down with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Put a half slice of lemon into each of the slits on one side of the fish.

Raw Fish

Stuff the cavity with the cilantro sprigs and the reserved scallion bottoms.

Spread the red pepper and clams out around the fish. Drizzle the stock around the fish. Fold the foil up over the fish to form a tent.

Roast for 35 to 40 minutes. Carefully open the foil – watch for steam. Serve with the scallion relish on the side.

Whole Fish

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13 thoughts on “Whole Roasted Fish with Clams and Spicy Scallion Relish”

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  1. This looks wonderful! Do you think I could rub the fish down with a little red palm oil instead of olive?

    1. If you want your fish to taste like red palm lol. The olive oil is mostly for taste and also aromatic.

      1. Oh, okay. I think I’ll try both 🙂 What fish do we use? (I probably missed it)

  2. This recipe makes me long for a recipe I saw in the classic food book by Clifford Wright, titled, “A Mediterranean Feast.” I lost the book and the recipe for what was called “Griddled Fish.” The author said it was usually prepared outdoors as the grills/griddles were hosed off when done. The fish was stuffed with tons of fresh herbs, but it was the cooking technique that supposedly made the fish taste awesome.

  3. this fish is happening.
    i look forward to recipe saturday every week!

  4. and you can strategically hide the fish head to help your christmas house guests make an early exit…

  5. The best way that I have found to cook whole fish is with a cast iron skillet. Make sure the fish is dry of all moisture then lightly salt, pepper and add olive oil. A one and one half pound fish should only take about five minutes per side. The skin will char perfectly without burning or sticking.

  6. I cook fish outside on the grill so it doesn’t stink up the house. You can use the grill like an oven.

  7. it’s nice to see appreciation of the whole fish. I have heard that the good fats are very close to the skin. Is there any special nutritional value in the skin, bones, or head of a fish, or its offal? I wonder why so many people I have known dont like the smell of fish cooking, but love the smell of other meats cooking. I also wonder why fish heads are considered “gross” by so many… maybe because of the eyes… nowadays we remove the heads of other beasts before they are sold as meat.

  8. That looks incredible! My first impression is it seems so high to cook for so long but then again look at the MDA Perfect Roasted chicken! I’m definitely going to give it a whirl.

  9. I am new here. I try to cook seasonally eating fruits and veggies that are good keepers or available at the time of year. Shop local and farmers market when open. My question is There are ‘a lot’ of salads, peppers and tomatoes (n other things) mentioned also shown in the pictures, their not winter veggies. What could I replace them with or what suggestions does anyone have for me. Just skip the salads??? Without rice, potatoes, or grains I am thinking my husband will be hungry… I am sure this sounds dumb but I am just wondering.