Why It Works
- A bed of lemon slices infuses the fish with flavor and prevents it from sticking to the pan.
- The high heat of the broiler quickly crisps the fish skin without overcooking the flesh.
- By keeping cherry tomatoes and shishito peppers whole, you can keep the knife work to a minimum and get to cooking faster.
Even when a recipe is well written, it can be tough to truly gauge how long a dish will take to make from start to finish. Estimates for cooking time are often unable to take into account subtle factors that come into play when making dinner, such as how long my workday was and how much whiskey I drank at the happy hour just before.
This isn’t one of those recipes. Even at tipsy half-speed, you should be able to cook this whole roasted porgy with tomatoes and shishito peppers in under 30 minutes. The secret is to keep everything whole and blast it with high heat under the broiler until blistered and charred. By skipping all the fussy knife work, I can get to the good eating sooner—just what I need on a busy weeknight.
When you need a quick-cooking meal fish is one of your best options—here I’ve chosen whole porgy, which is affordable and plentiful; if you can't find porgy, dorade is a very similar option. And while it’s a bony fish, the flesh is sweet, delicate, and absolutely worth the effort. Especially with a recipe that requires such minimal prep, I don’t mind taking extra time at the dinner table.
To start, I line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lemon slices. The lemon not only infuses the fish and vegetables with its bright, aromatic flavor, but it also prevents the fish from sticking to the pan, allowing me to enjoy every bit of sticky skin.
Next, I prepare the whole fish by rubbing it inside and out with extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. The porgies I’ve picked out here are on the smaller end—at just under a pound, each fish is a perfect portion for one person. The average porgy ranges from one to three pounds, but this recipe can quickly scale up to work with larger fish by merely adjusting the cooking time. One larger two-pound fish may need an extra minute or two compared to two smaller one-pound fish.
I then stuff the cavity of the fish with whatever herbs I have around. I prefer soft herbs with tender stems such as cilantro, parsley, and chives, which steam inside the cavity, perfuming the flesh while also growing tender and succulent. Woody herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage can also offer a great aroma to the fish, but won’t break down and become edible the way softer herbs do.
I toss the vegetables in a large bowl with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper before arranging them alongside the fish. Peppers and tomatoes are ideal in a dish like this because they can be delicious at any stage of doneness, from crisp and fresh to profoundly charred and caramelized. This allows me to focus on accurately cooking the fish and not fuss over whether or not the tomatoes and peppers are evenly browned.
Small fish like these need just 10 minutes under the broiler. Because porgy is a flatter fish, they cook evenly without much effort on my part. I just flip the fish once with a slotted fish spatula and toss the vegetables around halfway through cooking. Once the fins pull off the body easily, you can feel confident that it has cooked through.
While the fish is under the broiler, I make a straightforward garlic-and-herb oil to serve alongside. I start by thinly slicing garlic before gently toasting it in oil until barely golden brown. Garlic can taste burnt long before it browns, so it’s always best to pull it off the heat earlier rather than later. Once off the heat, I stir in a touch of smoked paprika and dried oregano. You can choose how to use it: for dipping, dunking, and/or drizzling onto the fish.
To be honest, I tend to eat meals like this right off the sheet tray, without any cutlery, until I’ve plucked off every last morsel of flaky fish. Who's got time for plates?
2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 whole porgy, scaled and cleaned (about 1 pound/450g each)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces; 85g) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 bunch fresh tender herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, or chives, (about 2 ounces; 60g)
3 ounces (85g) shishito peppers
6 ounces (170g) cherry tomatoes
4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Adjust oven rack to 6 inches below broiler element and preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly arrange lemon slices into a bed for the fish and vegetables.
Season the whole porgy inside and out with 2 tablespoons olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Stuff the cavities of the fish with herbs. Lay fish on the lemon bed.
In a medium bowl, toss together shishito peppers, cherry tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange vegetables around the fish. Top with any remaining herbs, if desired. Broil fish until fish skin is blistered and lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, flip fish and toss vegetables. Continue broiling fish until browned and lightly charred on the second side and fins pull easily from the body, about 5 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, in a small pot, combine remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil with thinly sliced garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until just golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in paprika and oregano.
Serve right away, either drizzling garlic oil on top of fish or serving it alongside for dipping.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 43g||56%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||30%|
|Total Carbohydrate 66g||24%|
|Dietary Fiber 17g||60%|
|Total Sugars 29g|
|Vitamin C 292mg||1,459%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|