Woodfire Grilled Citrus and Herb Red Snapper

This is the perfect fish for both frying, roasting, and in particular, grilling! That said, the key to preparing phenomenal snapper is both in its preparation over livefire and the quality of the fish itself.


4 whole red snappers, gutted, scaled and cleaned
olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, finely minced
salt and fresh ground peppercorn to taste
4 tangerines, thinly sliced
2 blood oranges, thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 limes, thinly sliced, plus additional for garnish
2-3 stalks of spring onion, plus additional for garnish
Fresh basil leaves, sprigs of thyme and parsley, plus additional to garnish
enough centre-cut lump charcoal to fill the chimney starter 75% full
3-4 large apple wood chunks

Ingredient Tips

Red Snapper

Red snapper can grow up to 15-18 kgs, but are often sold in fishing markets between 900 g – 1.8 kg. The fish has a brilliant shimmering red skin, it’s white-pinkish meat is mild to taste, slightly nutty and sweet in flavour, while it’s texture is lean and firm.

When purchasing red snapper, please consider these recommendations: The eye should not be sunken, still shiny and pupils not cloudy; Exterior of the fish and its scales should glisten in the light; Fresh fish should be springy to the touch upon the side fillets; Gills will be bright pinkish-red; Snapper should smell of the ocean. If it smells “fishy,”it probably is.


  1. 30 minutes prior to grilling, fill the chimney starter with charcoal and ignite. When the coals are glowing red, dump coals onto the grill floor. Pile high ¾ of the coals on one side of the grill, slanting the remaining coals to the opposite side, establishing one hot zone and one cooler zone. Place the apple wood chunks over the smoldering coals. Close the grill lid and wait 15 minutes until the wood is smoking.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the snapper by scoring the fish with a sharp knife along both sides of the fillet. Drizzle with olive oil and liberally seasoning the fish inside and out with salt, pepper and minced garlic. Then stuff with citrus fruits, sliced shallots, and fresh herbs.
  3. Gently place stuffed whole fish atop the direct heat grilling zone and sear with the grill lid open until char marks are well-defined, 4-5 minutes per side. Then transfer the fish to the cooler, indirect heat zone. Close the grill lid and smoke the fish for an additional 10-15 minutes, removing the fish when it achieves an internal temperature of 55°C and the meat is opaque in colour.
  4. Rest the fish for 5 minutes prior to plating. Garnish with fresh herbs, spring onion, pomegranate, and a few dashes of Sriracha. Serve alongside 2 handfuls of crisp, ice cold, lager beers.