Bacon-wrapped Yellowtail

Sorry for the radio silence; Jim and I went on a road trip last week.  I figured I could slip away, under the cover of fireworks.  We set off on the fourth of July and made our way to Lexington, NC for barbecue, then Savannah, GA for fried chicken, Florida for the ocean (and, more importantly, my grandparents), then back to Savannah.  We listened to the audio version of the Iliad along the way, which made our adventure down the east coast seem all the more glorious.  But that’s all I’m going to tell you for now; we’re letting the trip digest a bit before posting.

I did prepare something for you, though.  The night before we left we snuck over, again, to Jim’s parents’ empty house to grill, this time bacon-wrapped, herb-stuffed yellowtail snapper.  By chance, we bought a way-too-big-for-the-two-of-us fish, because it looked so pristine and delicious—a good thing, because we were ready when Jim’s parents came home early from their vacation, surprising us (and themselves) in the kitchen!  It became an impromtu welcome home/bon voyage party, with fish, avocado and tomato salad, grilled zucchini, and bread and butter.

The fish is one we’ve done many times, for good reason.  You take a whole fish, yellowtail for instance, though red snapper, bronzino, and many others work as well, and stuff it with whatever fresh herbs you can get your hands on (I like to use a mix of many herbs, so that no one stands out too much) and thin slices of lemon.  Then, and this is the good part, you salt and pepper and wrap it in bacon, from the head to the tail, and throw it on a hot grill.

It only takes a few minutes to cook the fish and crisp the bacon.  We like for it to blacken on the top and bottom; sprinkled with a touch of lemon juice, the charred bacon crumbles over the fish flesh as you eat and it’s fresh and savory and ahh, well, it’s just what it sounds like. Also, we could feed four people with a fish just over 2 pounds (that’s counting the weight of the carcass), because a little goes a long way here—a welcome thing for impromptu dinner parties.

Bacon-wrapped Yellowtail

serves 4

  • 1 (2.5 pound) whole yellowtail snapper, have the fishmonger clean and remove fins for you
  • salt, pepper
  • handful of mixed herbs, parsley, dill, thyme are good ones
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • about 6-8 slices good bacon
  • lemon wedges, for serving

Turn the grill on high.  Check that the fish has been scaled fully, and remove any stray scales.  Salt and pepper the inside cavity of the fish and fill with herbs and lemon slices.  Salt and pepper the outside of the fish and then wrap in bacon, overlapping each slice with other slices (to ensure that everything stays put).  Grill 7 minutes on each side, or until the fish is opaque and tender and the bacon is crisp and beginning to blacken.  Fillet and serve with lemon wedges.