Gateway Fish {baked grouper}

Many people get a bit nervous when it comes to cooking fish at home. There’s the innate fishiness of it all – the smell, the deboning and scales that give some pause. Then there’s the technique that can make people stumble – fish is so delicate and can easily be overcooked. It can stick to the pan or grill and fall apart when you’re trying to get it from pan to plate.

Fret no more, my fearful fish fans – this is the world’s easiest recipe for fish that accommodates both people who aren’t sure how much they like to eat fish and for those who aren’t sure if they can cook it. A gateway fish recipe, if you will. Schedule II fish. It’s prepared in your oven and employs aluminum foil to make individual poaching packets. I serve it with my favorite orzo recipe that is terrific cold or warm and basically, you should too. That’s what this is all about. Let’s get fishin’, shall we?

  • 2 6 oz. grouper filets or other white fish
  • 2-3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons white wine

First things first. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grab the tomatoes, parsley, olives and garlic and slice and dice until you end up with what looks like a bruscetta topping or italian-style salsa. Set aside.

Now, get a sheet pan and your aluminum foil out and get ready to wrap. Take the fish out of the fridge and give it a once over checking for tiny bones. If you need to grab the tweezers to debone your filets, go for it. Just wash before and after and commit yourself to buying a dedicated pair for the kitchen so your face doesn’t smell like the sea. It took me a while but I did it.

Take one of the fish filets and place it on a 12″x12″ (or larger) piece of aluminum foil. Top with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper and with 1/2 of the tomato mixture.

It’s time to wrap this up. Literally. Close up the top and one end of the fish in the foil and leave a small opening on the other end to pour in half of the white wine (about 2 tablespoons). Seal in the liquid by folding up the last side nice and tight and do it again for however many filets you’re making. Take your fish and pop them in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

While that’s happening, time to turn to the orzo. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup orzo
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 cup parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup feta, diced or crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Bring some water to a boil and cook your orzo until al dente. Don’t forget to set aside about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water should you need it. Just always do this, will you? Thanks.

Get your accouterments in order.


This doesn’t take long to pull together but can certainly sit covered if it is done before the fish. Drain your orzo and dump back into the pot you used to boil it. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, pine nuts, feta and olive oil and stir to combine. If you want to loosen it up, add some pasta water to your liking.

You’re basically done. Pull the fish out of the oven and be careful as you open it up. There’s a bunch of steam and tasty liquid from the tomatoes and the wine.

So pretty! Grab a plate and put down a bed of orzo and top that with the fish from the packet. I like to pour a little of the poaching liquid on top and go to town.

This looks so much more difficult than it really is. It comes together so quickly and is fantastic. You should make this. You really should.