BBQ whole snapper with fennel, lemon & tarragon

whole stuffed snapper ready to be barbequed

Market ingredient: Snapper
Deliciousness: YUM
Did The Beard like it? 
Loved it.

Since returning from travels, I have had cravings for seafood. Between Tunisia, Sicily and Malta, The Beard and I consumed more seafood than I think I have in my entire life. At any of the coastal cities and villages of these places, you could get such fresh & beautiful fish (and generally for ridiculously cheap prices as well) and all I could think of for the past week was the delicious simplicity of the way the nations of the med cook their seafood. Unfortunately, there are no fishmongers at Eveleigh, so we had to make 2 markets trips yesterday; one to Eveleigh and one to Sydney Fish Market.

Now, I don’t really have a preference as to with whom I deal at the Fish Markets, but I tend to visit De Costi’s or Musumeci’s; more because I find it annoying going into the main building and having to pinball my way through the people trying to buy their lunch and sit down than anything else. De Costi’s does have a huge variety and the staff are pretty helpful despite the chaos and noise of a packed fish market. The snapper we picked out was medium-sized and thankfully, De Costi’s are happy to clean them out for you. I’m not any good with fish guts.

BBQ-ed fish is one of the nicest things about summer and it really lends itself to simple, clean flavours. We’d been given a whole bunch of French tarragon, a herb that I don’t often use. However, seeing as Aniseed is one of my favourite flavours in the whole entire world, I really wanted to explore how to use this with seafood. We also had a bunch of fennel from the markets, so figured I might as well try and use both.

Fresh snapper, lemon and fennel

Ingredients for BBQ-ed whole snapper with fennel, lemon & tarragon

  • 1 medium-sized whole fresh snapper, cleaned and scaled.
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
  • handful of fennel fronds, reserved from the fennel bulb
  • handful of french tarragon
  • 1/2 lemon, rind removed, and thinly sliced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • good lug of olive oil
  • splash of dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to season


  1. Take the fennel, fennel fronts, tarragon, sliced lemon, lemon juice and oil and combine gently until the fennel and herbs are coated. Season to taste.lemon, fennel and tarragon
  2. Take a large piece baking paper (enough to wrap the fish) and place it on top of a piece of foil of the same size.
  3. Place the fish on top of the baking paper. Fill the fish cavity with 3/4 of the fennel, lemon and tarragon mixture. stuffing snapper with fennel, lemon and tarragon
  4. Place the remaining fennel, lemon and tarragon mixture on top of the fish and pour over any remaining liquid from the mixture. Splash the fish with a small amount of good dry white wine (we used a Sav Blanc as this is what we were drinking at the time, but any good dry white will do). Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.snapper wrapped in foil
  5. Carefully wrap the fish with the baking paper and foil. Press the edges of the foil together tightly to ensure that it is sealed.
  6. Place the fish on the bbq on a medium heat for 15 minutes, or so, until the fish is cooked through, but not dry.whole snapper barbequed in foil
  7. Serve with a crunchy fresh salad.

I mention above in the instructions about putting baking paper down between the fish and the foil.  We didn’t actually do this and found that the bottom half of the fish stuck a little to the foil. This is just a thought on how you could stop it from sticking. Alternatively, you could actually sit the fish on a layer of lemon slices, which would also provide a bit of protection from the foil, which obviously gets quite hot.

I REALLY enjoyed this dish. So clean and fresh in flavours and was really complimented by the fennel, rocket, cabbage and perserlane salad we served it with. The lemon, fennel and tarragon stuffing had become quite sweet when cooked and was really actually quite delicious. I’d like to try the dish without the fennel one day just to see how much aniseed flavour the tarragon would actually impart on its own. It’s flavour is much more subtle than that of fennel, so it may have been pointless putting the tarragon in, but it’s difficult to say.snapper and salad on a plate


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