Parsley-Stuffed Red Snapper

It’s hard to imagine being in the mood for whole fish, but if you live as close as I do to some spectacular indoor fish markets, it just might happen.

Red Snapper at West Side Market

When I’m in the mood for fish of any sort, I head out to the Super H Market, an Asian mega store that has become my favorite spot for locating exotic fruits, vegetables and herbs, fresh sushi and live fish from all over the world. They sell exotic seafare like live conch, snails and even eel. It’s no surprise that people of all ethnicities shop there for the freshest fish in town, and probably for miles.

Last week I had a fish craving, but wasn’t sure exactly what type I needed to satisfy my yearning to eat healthy and light. I decided it would be whatever looked fresh at the market, which turned out to be the bright-eyed red snapper. Nearly every one of its kind was clear-eyed, didn’t smell ‘fishy’, and its skin bounced back to the touch- all of the key elements to selecting fresh, quality fish.  I decided to take only two small ones and head back to the produce department to find what I needed for the herb stuffing, remembering a recipe taught by an old friend years ago. The taste of that fish dinner was coming back to me and I couldn’t wait to get home to re-create it all these years later.

I asked the fishmonger to remove the fins, gills and anything sharp that I didn’t know about or couldn’t remove myself. I wanted an open cavity in the belly of my fish for the stuffing. My fishmonger wouldn’t de-bone this fish, so I knew eating was going to be a challenge, so make sure yours if he will do this for you– and then go back to him frequently, as you won’t find too many who will take the time to do this!

To make the stuffing, you will need:

  • Approximately 1/2 bunch of flat parsley
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, to taste

Next, you have two options:

You can either sauté the onions in olive oil, then add the garlic and parsley, or you can simply leave it uncooked. I have tried it both ways and can tell you that my personal  preference is to fry the mixture. It simply has  more taste done this way, but some people prefer not to fry because they know the fish is going to be fried and it’s also a semi-oily fish itself. If you decide to fry the mixture, just be sure to let it cool for a few minutes before stuffing. 


When you’re ready to stuff the cavity of the fish, have your cooking twine  measured and scissors ready to do the task of tying up the fish in preparation for frying. Once you’re ready to fry, be sure the fish is dry. Good quality paper towels patting both sides well should do the trick.

  1. Using about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil per fish, place fish flat into the oil. If you like, you can add lemon rounds to the top of your fish, sliding them right under the twine.
  2. Let the fish fry on a medium-high flame for anywhere from 4-6 minutes. DO NOT FLIP! Remember this well: “If you flip (too early, that is), you will rip (the fish)!”
  3. Cover and place the fish in a 350° oven for approximately 10-15 minutes, watching carefully that it is not drying out.
  4. When done, remove but leave the lid on for a couple of minutes to retain moisture.

I was in the mood for a light dinner, so I served my fish with a simple salad of butter lettuce and radish sprouts that I got from the Asian market. They were delicious! My homemade dressing was light and simple and because of the vinegar, it helped to cut the ‘grease’, so to speak, of my oily fish.

Simple Salad Dressing:

  • 1 part olive oil
  • 2 parts apple cider vinegar
  • kosher or sea salt
  • black pepper or dry parsley flakes, but not both

Mix, shake and serve.

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