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Whole BBQ Snapper with Garlic King Prawns

BBQ Whole Snapper - Ingredients

One whole snapper, around 1.5-2kg. Scaled, gutted and gilled
Large green King Prawns, enough to fill the snapper
A few fresh chillies
Around a 1/4-1/2 a cup of fresh chopped dill
Two cloves of fresh garlic
Half a cup of white wine
Two teaspoons of sesame seed oil


Finely chop the chillies, garlic and dill. I used two small chillies, this is enough to enhance the flavour without making it too hot. Its not meant to taste like chilli fish!

Squeeze the juice from a decent sized lemon, or two small ones into a container. Add about 1/4 - 1/2 a cup of white wine. Mix in the chilli and dill.

Peel the King Prawns and place in a bowl. Add one to two teaspoons of the sesame seed oil and the finely chopped garlic. Mix this in so that each of the prawns is covered by the oil and garlic.

The skin on both sides of the snapper needs to be scored with about four diagonal lines. This is because the skin will shrink during cooking, bending the fish and making it difficult to keep it flat.

Stuff the Snapper's cavity with the king prawns. Then seal it with skewers to stop the prawns slipping out. They get pretty slippery because of the sesame oil.

Place the stuffed snapper into a dish, cover with the lemon juice and wine mixture, and place in the fridge.

Important: The lemon juice will start to cook the fish. The fish should be in the mixture for no more than half an hour, and should be turned over once in the mix to get an even covering.


I cooked this on a four burner BBQ with a hood. This is done by placing the grill plate and flame tamer in the middle of the BBQ, with the two middle burners turned off and the outside burners providing in-direct heat. Once the hood is closed you have an effective oven. You can also cook this in a large baking tray in the oven.

One the BBQ has pre-heated to 180C place the fish in the center of the plate. Pour some of the lemon juice and wine mixture over the fish.

This fish will need to cook for between one and two hours at 180C. This depends on this size of your fish, as well as the BQQ or oven being used.

To check on the fish's progress you can lift the belly flap. If the flesh on the inside of that flap is not cooked, then the fish is not ready. A final check of the fleshiest part of the fish, the shoulder, will tell you when the fish is ready.

At about the half way point turn the fish over. Use tonges to grasp the fish around the belly area, keeping the prawns in, and lift at the same time from the head area. This is also how you should lift the fish out when it is done.

Once turned, pour over the remainder of the mixture.

When the fish is cooked, the flesh should be moist and tender, but should not be sticking to the bones. The prawns will be ready when the fish is. Being in the belly of the fish, and the seasame oil, stops the prawns from over cooking and drying out.


When the fish is ready, lift it directly onto a serving platter. Remove the prawns from inside the fish.

The flesh should easily come away from the bones. A butter knife or small spatula is handy for getting the flesh off.

Once the flesh is removed from one side you do not turn the fish over. Instead, starting from the tail, lift the back bone from the flesh, all the way to the head. The backbone and head can be disposed off and the remainder of the flesh will be on the serving platter.

Do not forget that the flesh in the fish's cheeks is very tasty, don't throw it away!

Serve with a glass of your favourite white wine or a beer, add some slices of lemon, chips or a salad. The results are fantastic and it is quite easy to prepare.


  • Any fish with firm white flesh is good for this receipe.
  • Fish with this shape are prefered, instead of a more roundered, thicker fish.
  • The idea of this recipe is to enhance the natural flavour of the fresh fish, not hide it under the flavour of the ingredients.
  • Be careful not to overcook the fish, this a common mistake with seafood.
  • This receipe can be used to cook fish fillets. After soaking in the mixture for a shorter time, around 15mins, throw the fillets on the BBQ and cook as per usual.
  • The prawns are not essential to the recepie. But they do come out juciy and full of flavour.
  • You can replace the chilli with ginger, or just add it or anything else as your taste demands!
BBQ Whole Snapper - In Progress
Jason Harris - jgharris.com.