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A Perth Foodie's Adventures in Hong Kong

"Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are" - Brillat-Savarin

Baked Whole Fish Recipe
When it comes to cooking fish, I think one of the worst things to do would be to dredge it in thick batter and then deep-fry it beyond any recognition in terms of appearance and flavours. Overcooking fish and drowning them in heavy sauces are the other two sacrilegious acts done to fish. Unfortunately, these three fish cooking methods are favoured in Australia, and it's no wonder then that eating fish (or any seafood, for that matter) does not rate very highly on most Australian palates, which is a shame because of the abundance of beautiful fresh seafood available right on their shores! We all know the health benefits of including fish in our diet, and I try to cook fish at least two meals a week. My current favourite way of cooking fish is so simple that I am almost embarrassed that I am blogging about it. It's not really so much a recipe as a demonstration on how easy it is to cook a whole fish, and I hope to encourage more people to enjoy fish as part of their meals-at-home repertoire. I buy whole fish from the supermarket at the mall downstairs, where the fish is already scaled and gutted, and spring onion, ginger and red chili are also included (I add garlic to the mix too). There is also a tank of live fish at the supermarket, and Zak loves watching the (doomed) fishies swim around while I decide which fish to have for dinner. (By the way, one of Zak's favourite food is fish, which I hope will stay with him as he grows up.) The intention of the spring onion, ginger and chili is for steaming, but I don't have a steamer or pot big enough for a 1/2kg fish, so I bake the whole fish instead. Where would I be without an oven! This baked whole fish takes less than 30 minutes to prep and cook, which is perfect for a mid-week dinner for three (well, two adults and a little one). This particular fish is sea snapper, but I think most fish sold whole at supermarkets will work as long as it fits in your oven. Selecting a fresh fish is important, especially for this recipe, and it's easy to judge freshness with a whole fish (clear eyes, firm flesh, no overly strong fishy smell). There are plenty of ways to bake a fish, but this is how I do it, a simple no-fuss method that allows the delicate flavours of fish to stand on its own.

Baked Whole Fish


A whole fish, about 500g
Spring onions
Ginger, about the size of your thumb
3 cloves garlic
Red chili (optional)


1) Preheat oven to 200degC. While waiting for the oven to heat up, slice up some spring onion, ginger, garlic and red chilli.

2) Prepare some aluminium foil, about 3 times the length of the whole fish. Fold a third of the foil over to create a double layer of foil where the fish will sit on. Ensure that the shiny side will not be facing out because the shiny surface will reflect the oven heat away from the packet, which is NOT desirable.

3) If necessary, wash the fish, and then cut three slits into both sides of the fish. Sprinkle a little bit of salt and rub onto its surfaces and inside the emptied gut cavity. Place the fish onto the prepared alfoil.

4) Put the sliced spring onion, ginger, garlic and chili inside the cavity as well as under and on top of the fish so that the fragrance will permeate on both sides of the fish.

5) Wrap up the fish with the free (single layer) end of the foil, leaving a bit of air pocket above the fish to prevent it from sticking to the foil while cooking. Place the fish parcel in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.

Serve the fish with rice and stir-fried vegetables.

After serving up Rob's and Zak's portions (keeping them as de-boned as possible), I happily sit down to eat my portion straight off the bone, savouring the best parts (in my opinion) that can only be found near or with bones which includes the succulent cheek flesh and the fatty belly. Not something to do when you have dinner guests over! Ah, the simple pleasures!