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pink snapper

Thank you again for your kindness on Thursday! I will tell you some of the really wonderful things that I learned and experienced on the difficult trip… but I’m going to save that for tomorrow. I promised to get back to you with a recipe today and a recipe is what you shall have!


When I go to Costco, which you already know is quite often, I always go down the fresh fish aisle. Every now and then I spot whole fish, and although I’ve been tempted before, I’ve always passed them by for the fillets or shellfish. Not this time! I spotted packages of lovely pink snapper and decided to stop being lazy and just go for it.

Whole fish is not as convenient as fillets but I enjoyed the experience of grilling them. Not only did laziness hold me back before, but also Dave really dislikes finding bones in his fish. I’ve never really minded that because I remember my childhood camping days when we’d eat the fish the rest of the family caught.

happy campers

I say “the rest of the family” because I have never caught a fish in my Life, even though I always threw out the hook and line with the rest of the family… Go Figure!  AND, how about that awesome photo of us camping! Doesn’t everyone look so happy?!

Left to right; Andy, Dad, Sloane, Mom, and me. My old brother, Dennis, must have been taking the picture.  Andy looks sad. My dad has a bit of a smirk. Sloane looks confused. And my mom looks seriously ticked off. Then there is smiling Linda, looking like she has a secret! I can’t imagine why else I would be smiling. I HATED camping. Did then, still do! Yeah, I must have had the goods on one of my siblings or been up to something, otherwise, I would have had a major pout on my face.


In this photo, my chic five year-old-self poses instead of fishing. My brother, Dennis, is to the right of me on the rocks in the stream. I have no idea who the two older boys in the photo are. But my tied-up shirt and shorts are super styling, I’d bet anything that the entire ensemble was pink.

hawley lake

The attitude and body language I am throwing off here are more in line with my feelings about camping. I can tell you exactly how I felt about being there – dread and despair! I’m guessing that I was 12 or 13 years old. This photo was taken at Hawley Lake, near the town of Pinetop in Arizona’s White Mountains. At least Andy looks super excited and happy to be there! Dennis looks desperate to be anywhere else in the world. Sloane’s rocking a fabulous shag haircut. Although, I really can’t make fun of Sloane’s hair when you look at the mop on my head. Oh, those were the days.

Anyhow, I remember that our parents would give us a penny for every fish bone we found while we carefully chewed our fish. We loved it and made a game and contest out of eating fish.

I, of course, would cheat, as I’m prone to do, and bite the bones I found in half when no one was looking, and usually, I would win! If you know how competitive I am, you’d think nothing of this. Not at all surprising!

We thought our parents were being fun, but it was actually to keep us from choking on fish bones. Smart parenting!


Back to Dave – I went through his serving with a fine-tooth comb, so he didn’t have to worry about any bones. Plus, I didn’t want to owe him any pennies. Although, you’ll notice that his plate doesn’t look as pretty as my nearly perfect fillet, pictured below.

You may cook the fish directly on the grill grates or use a grilling basket, as I did.

The grilling basket I have has a wooden handle, which is nice since it doesn’t get hot, but you have to be sure the wood portion is sticking out from the grill, to prevent it from burning.

on the grill

When I shut the lid, it lifts the basket off the grates, so I stick a metal basket there to hold the lid up a little bit.


Grilled Whole Pink Snapper

Three 3/4-pound head-on whole pink snapper, 2 1/2 pounds total, scaled and gutted
Kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
5 or 6 limes, plus 1 more for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh Italian parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

pink snapper ingred

Heat a gas grill to medium-high. Rinse the fish inside and out; dry the surfaces and cavities thoroughly with paper towels. Season fish cavities with salt and rub a minced garlic clove into each cavity.

Juice enough of the limes to equal 1/4 cup. Slice the remaining limes into thin slices. Set aside the juice and place the lime slices on a plate or shallow bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, toss to coat.

grill basket

Stuff the cavity of each of the fish with 3 or 4 lime slices. Stuff a few basil leaves and a sprig of Italian parsley into each, as well.

Mince some of the remaining parsley to equal 3 tablespoons, add to the lime juice, and whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

with top basket

If you have a grill basket, spray it with Pam and add the fish to it. If not, clean and oil the grill grate well. Grill fish in the grill basket or directly onto the cleaned and oiled grates. Grill until the skin is nicely crisp and lightly charred, about 7 minutes, with the lid of the grill closed.

ready to flip

Turn the grill basket over or if cooking directly on the grate, place a metal spatula underneath the fish, then lift and gently roll the fish over to the other side. Close the grill lid and cook until the flesh is flaky and opaque down to the bone, about another 7 minutes. Use a small knife to check for doneness; if it slides easily through the thickest part of the flesh, the fish is done.

all done

Transfer the fish to a cutting board. Use a knife or fork to gently remove the skin. It will come off easily. Run a knife between the flesh and the bones and lift off the fillet.

the bones

Turn the fish over and repeat. Repeat with the other fish. Discard the bones and the limes and herbs from the cavities.


Transfer fillets to serving plates or a platter. Whisk the lime juice/olive oil mixture again and drizzle over the fish. Garnish with a couple more lime slices and a sprig of basil.

Serves 2 or 3

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1 Lori V { 04.12.13 at 8:04 AM }

I could NEVER do this- hate my food looking @ me, but the finished product looks amazing! I more enjoyed your camping photos- priceless! Camping is traveling on a dare to me too-never liked it, never will! Back in Chicago finally! Long story- glad you made it home! oxoxo

2 Connor { 04.12.13 at 9:11 AM }

You? Cheat? Mother! I have lost so much respect for you.

3 Sloane { 04.12.13 at 9:13 AM }

OMG, that picture of you by the river looks just like Marissa!!!!
You didn’t say anything about me rocking that hand made jumpsuit with the ruffled straps!!!

4 Linda Hopkins { 04.12.13 at 9:13 AM }

Yeah, right Connor! No snarky comments on your mom’s awesome camping photos? Now that surprises me!

5 Sloane { 04.12.13 at 9:14 AM }

Ha ha , Cheat, that is why I have such a complex when playing cards and know I won’t win….my childhood!

6 Linda Hopkins { 04.12.13 at 9:17 AM }

Poor little sister, the most helpless victim of my cheating ways. I have no comment about that outfit you have on. It would be too cruel to say even one thing! All I can say, is I’m sorry – all the way around!

7 Sloane { 04.12.13 at 9:51 AM }

Yes, I still have nightmares about the matching homemade Xmas outfits! Who does that?

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