Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Pan-Roasted Whole Fish with Olives

For me, the best part of a fish is its skin. Much like the treasured outside of a roast chicken, the skin is crisp, salty, and deeply flavorful—that is, when it's cooked properly. I never understand the virtue of a fillet of fish without the skin and always try to buy a whole fish with it still on whenever possible. Not only is it cheaper, but you get all kinds of textures and anything cooked whole and on the bone with cartilage and connective tissue will be moister and more delicious.

I turned to Mario Batali for this recipe from his book Molto Mario. He calls for a whole large snapper to feed four, which is the recipe I'm repeating here, but I cooked mine with a small branino for two. Either way, the sauce is marvelous: black olives, capers, white, and lemon zest are spooned into the skillet after the fish gets a thorough searing over high heat. In the oven, it practically melts with the pan juices. Parsley, flaky salt, and a drizzle of olive oil on top and it's ready.

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