This Mexican recipe roasting a whole fish with the scales on, which is a great way to trap all of the moisture, giving a tender result with the full flavour of the fish.






Skill level

Average: 2.4 (9 votes)


  • 1 x 500 g whole fish, gutted, scales on (see Note)
  • 8 corn tortillas, to serve

Tomatillo salsa

  • 3 tomatillos
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 whole red jalapeño chilli
  • salt, to taste

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.


To make the salsa, place the tomatillos, garlic and chilli in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 8 minutes or until soft. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the tomatillos, garlic and chilli in a blender and blend until smooth. Add some of the cooking water, if the sauce is too thick. Add salt to taste and set aside.

Preheat a large flat barbecue plate over medium heat and season plate with salt. Place the fish down on the salt and cook for 8–10 minutes before turning over. (Don’t worry if there are burnt patches, the skin will be removed before eating.)

Turn the fish over and continue cooking for another 8 minutes. Ensure the fish is cooked by making a small incision in the thickest part of the fish, and checking the flesh closest to the spine. If it is cooked, remove from the heat.

Gently remove the skin from the fish, then use a fork to remove the flesh. Discard the bones. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and salsa.


• Any fish weighing less than 1 kg can be cooked this way, but cooking times will vary considerably depending on the type of fish and thickness of the fillets.