What is your favorite way to serve fish? My family loves the simple beauty of whole fish. Whether it’s baked or grilled, it’s tender and flavorful every time. Baked Whole Fish with Olive Relish is the perfect way to celebrate the weekend.
As much as I love serving fish filets, like my Salmon Piccata, there’s something magic about a whole fish. It traps in all of the tenderness and moisture of the fish while allowing you to experience the pure, sweet flavor.
When you start with a beautiful fresh fish, it doesn’t take much to allow it to shine. Cooking it in its whole form helps prevent it from overcooking and drying out. Baked Whole Fish with Olive Relish is both impressive and easy. The best part, you only need a handful of ingredients.
- Whole fish – Pick your favorite, and also what looks the freshest. The eyes should be clear, and it should smell like the sea, not fishing. Branzino, snapper, striped bass, and trout are all good options.
- Salt and pepper – I like to keep the seasoning simple so the fish can shine.
- Lemon slices – These perfume the entire fish and add a burst of brightness.
- Olive mix – You can buy mixed olives or create your favorite combination. Some olives are more buttery, like Castelvetrano olives, while others like Kalamata olives are more meaty. Use your favorite.
- Olive oil
- Capers – These will add a salty, briny pop to accent the rich sweetness of the fish.
- Fresh herbs – I like to use a combination of parsley, mint, and basil.
- Lemon juice and lemon slices – The lemon juice ties the olive relish together and I love to serve the fish with lemon slices.
- Crushed chili flakes – This adds that kiss of heat to the relish.
How to Make Bakes Whole Fish with Olive Relish
This fresh and bright dish bakes up in less than half an hour. The best part, you can make the olive relish the day before!
With just a few simple steps and tips this dish comes together easily.
- Fish Prep
Your fishmonger should clean your fish for you, making it easy to stuff the inside. All you need to do is season the cavity of the fish with salt and pepper, and stuff it with lemon slices.
- The Heat is On
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the fish on a baking sheet and allow it to bake for about 20 minutes. Fish actually have their own internal thermometer. You will know it’s done when the eyes turn a milky white color.
You can also grill your fish if desired. A grilling basket works well for this.
- Relish Time
Prepare your relish. Mix all of your ingredients together in a bowl and allow to marinate. This can be made the day before and gets better the longer it sits.
- Dinner Time
Serve your roast fish with the olive relish and lemon slices. It is equally delicious warm, or room temperature.
Because fish is the star of this fresh and vibrant dish, you always want to buy what looks the freshest, and what you like. While branzino is a classic for this style of cooking, you can always substitute it with what your fishmonger recommends or what looks good to you.
Variations on Baked Whole Fish with Olive Relish
Lemon is a classic pairing with whole fish but try infusing the bright and sunny flavors of different citrus. You could swap the lemon for lime, or do a combination of lemon, lime and oranges.
In addition, if you want a slightly more assertive kick to the olive relish, add a little freshly minced garlic. Have fun adding your favorite accents to both the fish itself and also the relish.
Tools for Baked Whole Fish with Olive Relish
Don’t be intimidated by cooking a whole fish! Not only is it one of the easiest way to cook up tender and moist fish every time, all you need is a baking sheet or baking dish long enough to accommodate your fish.
If you decide to grill your fish, using a grill basket makes it easy to flip your fish, and also helps prevent it from sticking. You can also grill the whole fish on a baking sheet or grill safe baking dish.
How to Store Whole Fish
When cooking fresh fish, whether it’s a whole fish or fish filets, you should always store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator. You should also purchase it the same day that you plan on cooking it.
Top Tip for Baked Whole Fish with Olive Relish
Always look for the freshest fish. You want the fish to have clear eyes, shiny scales, and have a clean sea smell. If their eyes look cloudy and they smell fishy, pick a different option.
Baked Whole Fish with Olive Relish
- 1 baking sheet or baking dish
- 1 whole fish, cleaned, such as branzino, snapper, striped bass, or trout Your fishmonger can clean your fish for you so it's ready to cook.
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon slices, plus lemon wedges for serving
- 2 cups mixed olives, chopped
- 1 tbsp capers
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped I like a combination of parsley, mint, and basil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- pinch chili flakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place whole fish on a baking sheet. Season the inside with salt and pepper.
- Stuff the cavity with lemon slices.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the eyes turn milky white and the meat easily flakes.
- Serve with olive relish and lemon wedges.
- Add all of the ingredients for the relish to a bowl.
- Mix to combine.
- This can be made ahead of time, even the day before. It gets better as it marinates.