Chef Giovanni Pilu says fish is traditionally cooked whole in Sardinia, as this results in a more moist, flavoursome dish. Snapper is a good fish to cook whole as there aren’t too many bones and the flesh comes away easily in large pieces.






Skill level

Average: 3.7 (12 votes)


  • 1–2 kg snapper, cleaned
  • sea salt flakes
  • 185 ml (¾ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 500 ml (2 cups) fish stock
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 30 bosane olives (see note)
  • 500 ml (2 cups) dry white wine
  • 150 g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • parsley leaves to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 30 minutes

The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.

Remove snapper from fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Cover and set aside in a cool place to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 220˚C.

Score snapper on one side, making 5 or 6 diagonal cuts just through to the bone. Sprinkle both sides of the fish generously with salt, rubbing gently into the skin.

Heat a large heavy-based roasting tin on the stovetop over medium heat. Pour in the oil and when hot, carefully place the fish in the tin, scored-side down. Cook for about 6 minutes until skin is golden, then turn and cook for a further 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Scatter garlic and olives over fish, add wine and bring to the boil. Add hot fish stock, cover tightly with a double layer of foil. Transfer the tin to the oven and cook for 10–15 minutes, until fish is cooked through, basting once during cooking. When cooked, the flesh of the scored side of the fish, at the thickest part near the bone, should be white.

Remove from oven, place the fish on a platter, cover loosely with foil and set aside in a warm place. Pour the cooking juices from the roasting tin into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3–4 minutes until reduced by a third. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter a few cubes at a time until combined. Stir in parsley leaves and spoon the sauce over the fish.


• Bosane olives are large green Sicilian olives known for their meatiness and generous yield.


Photography by Alan Benson