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  • Writer's pictureSheena Philipose

The Best Fish with Lemon and Fresh Herbs

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

Fish isn't my first choice. I know its brain food and the best type of meat (or at least that's what I tell my kids) but I don't enjoy the taste as much as other meats. Even though I'm not a fish person, my husband absolutely loves it. He devours every part of the fish- the skin, bones, even the eyeballs! He is very methodical about it, and will patiently take it apart piece by piece until there's nothing left...

When cooking fish, I've learned that you really don't need too many ingredients- keep it simple and let the flavor speak for itself. With this recipe, I've managed to keep both the integrity of the fish and its delicate taste by using a few fresh ingredients. This fast and easy recipe allows the fish to retain all of its flavor by cooking it in its own steam.

The trick to this recipe is marinating the fish ahead of time. On the day I buy it, I marinate it, wrap it in foil, pop it in the freezer and on the day of baking it I take it out to thaw in the fridge for a couple of hours before cooking. If you decide to bake it the same day, make sure to give it at least half an hour to an hour of marinating time to get the best flavor.

Its a good dish to prepare when having people over as all the prep can be done in advance leaving only the baking for that day.

What you will need:

Fish: I would recommend a white-fleshed fish, such as mahi-mahi, sea bass, sea bream, or red snapper. I found a really fresh, big sea bass so that's what I used

Herbs: Use what ever fresh herbs you love and are readily available. I prefer parsley or dill, you can even do a mix of both

Lemon: You will need the juice of half a lemon and cut thin slices out of the other half

Garlic: Don't be shy with it, you can never go wrong with too much garlic


Chilies: This is up to you- my husband likes quite a bit of heat in everything he eats so we add them

Olive Oil: Regular olive oil or any oil

Balsamic Vinegar: This adds a little sweetness and acidity

Salt and Pepper

Everything is chopped finely and mixed well together

How to get the fish ready

My advice would be to get really friendly with the salesperson at the fish counter. That person will know the freshest and best quality fish of the day, and you can ask for exactly how you want it cleaned and cut. Otherwise, if you are doing it yourself, scale, gut, and wash the fish and make sure to create a cavity in the stomach to stuff it. Pat it dry and sprinkle some salt and pepper all over before adding anything to the fish. Since olive oil is added to the marinade, there is no need to rub it on before.

For reference, here's a little video showing the stuffing and wrapping of the fish in foil


Whole Baked Fish with Lemon and Herbs Recipe

Prep time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 45 mins

Serving: 5


  • Fish: A whole fish weighing 750 g to 1 kg. Any fish that's good for baking such as sea bream, sea bass, red snapper

  • Onion: One medium-sized onion, diced finely

  • Lemon: Juice of half a lemon, cut the other half into thin slices

  • Herbs: A whole bunch of parsley, dill or a mix of both, about 1-1/2 cups

  • Garlic: 4-5 garlic cloves minced finely

  • Olive oil: 2 Tbsp

  • Balsamic vinegar: 1 Tbsp

  • Green chilies: 4-5, chopped (optional)

  • Salt: 1 Tsp

  • Pepper: 1/2 Tsp

  • Curry powder: 1 Tsp any brand (optional)


  1. Scale, gut and rinse the fish. Make sure you have created a cavity to stuff the fish and let it dry.

  2. In a bowl, mix the onion, garlic, herbs, green chilies (if using), olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper and the curry powder. Mix, taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed.

  3. Score the sides of the fish so the marinade can go inside the flesh.

  4. Take 2 equally long strips of aluminum foil and place on top of one another. on the top foil place 3 Tbsp of the marinade in a line and place the fish on top of this. The bottom layer of foil is for back up in case of any leaks.

  5. Stuff the cavity of the fish with some of the marinade, reaching all the way inside.

  6. Add the remaining marinade on top and all over the outside of the fish. Place a few lemon slices inside the cavity, and put the rest on top.

  7. Take an equally long strip of aluminum foil as the ones you used before and place it on top of the fish to cover it fully. Envelope the fish in the aluminum foil snugly to allow the fish to cook in its own steam and prevent it from losing moisture.

  8. Let the fish marinate for half an hour to an hour. If you are not baking right away, keep it in the fridge. I have kept the marinated fish in the freezer for 2 weeks and on the day I planned to bake it, I let it thaw in the fridge and it tasted even better.

  9. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). When ready, put the wrapped fish on a baking tray and place it inside the oven to cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the fish out and open the top layer of aluminum. Take care as the foil will be hot and steam will be escaping as you open the wrapping. If you have a broiler/grill, turn off the oven and on a low flame. let the top of the fish crisp up a bit while keeping a close eye on it. If you don’t have a grill, let it continue baking for another 15 minutes without the top foil.

  10. Take the tray out and poke a fork or knife into the thickest part of the fish to check if it's done. If it's ready, the flesh should flake off.

  11. Enjoy with some fresh salad and bread!

For a printed version of the recipe click here :

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