Summer BBQ Recipe: Grilled Whole Fish and Homemade Chilli-Lime Dip

By Yen Simpson •

On a lovely summer’s day, having a barbecue in your garden is one of the nicest ways to eat in the sunshine. You want it to be as fuss-free as possible - food that can be prepared in minimal time but still taste delicious. Yen’s great recipe for grilled fish is a perfect example.



One of my favourite things to cook on the barbecue (well I prepare it, and my husband cooks it. Who are we kidding here?) is fish. Cooking fish on the barbecue is very straightforward and easy and is a great addition to a barbecue feast. The fish you see here is the black pomfret, which is readily available in Asia, but you can use other whole fish such as mackerel, hake, sea bass, red mullet, or sea bream. These fish selections are good since they will remain moist after grilling on the barbecue. Do ask your fishmonger to scale the fish, remove the guts and clean the gills for you.


Coincidentally it is National Fishing month in the UK, so you can even go catch your own fish at selected locations. Do check out the website here for details on when, where and how anyone who wants to learn more about fishing can take part at events in your local area.

Stuff the gutted fish with fresh herbs such as dill, oregano, parsley or thyme. I also like to squeeze some lemon juice onto the stomach area - this is to get rid of some of the strong fishy odors from the stomach area that some people do not like. The fish is then placed onto a hinged BBQ fish basket before being placed on the barbecue. If you do not own of these holders, you can also wrap the fish in tin foil and banana leaf. The banana leaf gives off a lovely fragrance to the fish and the outer casing will reduce the ferocity of direct contact with the fire.


Which type of fuel works best for grilling fish? For me personally, I like using charcoal fire, as it gives the fish smokiness and a little charring on the skin. I like to serve the grilled fish with a homemade chilli-lime dip which is wonderfully appetizing and spicy. I usually pound/ground it in a mortar and pestle (highly recommended if you have had a stressful week too) or you can place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz. This zingy dip also goes well with other grilled seafood such as prawns and squid.


BBQ grilled fish with homemade chilli/lime dip

Serves 4


2 whole firm-fleshed fish, cleaned

A bunch of fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, thyme or oregano (or a mix)

1/2 lemon

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp coarse sea salt


1. Light the charcoal barbecue 45 minutes before you plan to cook.

2. Clean the fish thoroughly and pat exterior dry with a kitchen towel. Squeeze lemon juice in the stomach area and stuff the fish with fresh herbs. You can use a skewer to seal the herbs in.




3. Mix the sea salt and olive oil and rub over the exterior of the fish. Place the fish in the BBQ fish basket.

4. Grill for 10 - 12 minutes (5-6 minutes each side), or until a skewer inserted in the thickest part goes all the way through.


Homemade chilli-lime dip

4 shallots, diced *

1 bulb garlic, diced *

6 bird’s eye chilli, diced *

2 red chilli, diced *

4-5 calamansi or lime

2 teaspoon brown sugar

Salt, to taste


1. Place ingredients marked with * into a mortar and ground/pound until you get a paste.


2. Squeeze the juice of calamansi or lime into bowl, add brown sugar and mix until sugar has dissolved. Mix ingredients in mortar with the lime juice. Alternatively, place all ingredients in a blender and blend until you get a paste. Season with salt, as necessary.

For other BBQ recipe ideas, please see this post here.

Great British Chefs have a collection of great barbecue recipes too.


Yen Simpson

A mother of two, Yen is a freelance writer and food blogger based in Malaysia. She shares her food journey via Instagram (@babysumo) and in greater detail in her blog, goodyfoodies.blogspot.com. Her blog showcases Western and Asian recipes, as well as restaurant reviews of various local delicacies and some insight into her fondness for fine dining. Her greatest joy comes from cooking for her family and seeing them eat healthily and well.

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