Grilled Whole Fish with Orange, Lime, and Cilantro Vinaigrette

When the time changes in less than 2 weeks the barbecuing season will come to a definitive end. I was glad to be able to squeeze in this recipe. I’ve wanted to make Grilled Red Snapper for years. Red Snapper freshly pulled from the ocean is my favorite meal whenever I visit the Caribbean. Unfortunately, my supermarket rarely carries it, and the changing seasons would allow me to wait no longer; I had to substitute whole Tilapia (another Caribbean white fish).

Not like a trip to the Caribbean, but a nice change of pace.

The complete instructions are here. The recipe for the vinaigrette is here. Start 2/3 of a chimney starter of charcoals until covered by a fine gray ash. Make shallow diagonal slashes every two inches on both sides of the fish, which will allow the meat to cook evenly. Rub inside and out with 1-1/2 tablespoons of oil, season with salt and pepper. Pour coals evenly around the grill, clean and preheat the grill grate. Season the grate with oil-soaked paper towels to prevent the fish from sticking. Grill for 9 minutes per side, then use two spatulas to flip and move the fish.

For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl Whisk 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, juice from 1 orange and 1 lime, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, some ground black pepper. Finish with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves.

I’d rate it between 3-1/2 stars and 4-stars. It was very easy to prepare. But the tilapia is too mild of a fish. The vinaigrette complemented the mild flavor, but wasn’t powerful enough to fully compensate. Still, it was an enjoyable meal, and a nice change from the regular routine.


  1. Because my kids generally won’t eat fish, I only made one. So I cut the ingredient amounts in half.
  2. Perhaps because tilapia is even more mild than red snapper, the flavors in the vinaigrette seems too muted. Next time I will cut the oil from 6 tablespoons to 4 tablespoons so that the flavors aren’t so watered down.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $6.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Started: 5:00 pm  Ready:  6:00 pm.

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