Chef Barry Koslow suggests getting your fishmonger to trim the fish if you aren't up to the task. Use kitchen shears to cut off the fins, the end of the tail and the gills, but leave the head intact. It's a good idea to wear food-safe (latex) gloves while doing that.
The corn, peppers and fennel can be prepared ahead, then covered and held until you are ready to finish the dish; or prepared 1 day in advance and reheated in a 250-degree oven for about 10 minutes.
Grill notes: "Anytime you cook fish, whether in a pan or on a grill, you want the surface smoking hot," the chef says. "Oil the grill really well, then lay the fish, which has also been oiled and seasoned, on the grill. Press flat, then leave it alone. It will take about 12 minutes to grill: 6 minutes on each side. Grill the fish last to keep its flavor from permeating the other dishes."
Servings: 6 - 8
- 2 ears yellow or white corn (husks on)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the corn and for drizzling
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small to medium red bell peppers
- 2 medium bulbs fennel, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 15 littleneck clams (discard any that have opened and will not close tightly)
- 2 ounces dry Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups mussel broth or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 small to medium orange, peeled and cut into 8 slices
- 1 bunch thyme sprigs
- 4 (16 ounces) whole red snappers, scaled, gutted and fins removed
If using a gas grill, preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area for direct heat. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.
Peel back the corn husks and discard the silk, being very careful not to break or remove the husks (this may be a bit cumbersome to do).
Place the corn, with husks attached, in a bucket of water for 20 to 30 minutes. Rub the corn kernels with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pull the husks back over the corn. Grill the corn for 12 to 15 minutes, turning frequently, until the corn is tender, using the spray bottle as necessary to douse husk flames. Transfer the corn to a work surface and discard the husks. Cut off the kernels with a knife and place them in a large bowl. Set aside.
Toss the peppers in a medium bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly charred. Transfer to a work surface and discard the skin and seeds. Cut the peppers into thin strips and add them to the corn.
Toss the fennel in a medium bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, then add to the bowl with the corn and peppers, tossing lightly to combine. Set aside.
Rinse the cockles or clams with cold water and drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the cockles or clams and chorizo and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the white wine and the mussel or chicken broth. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the clams have opened. Remove from the heat and add the saffron and parsley, stirring to combine. Set aside.
Place the orange slices and thyme inside the fish, then season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the skin with olive oil. Place on a very clean, hot, well-oiled grill. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the fish feels warm to the touch.
Arrange the grilled vegetables on a large, deep-walled serving platter and put the grilled fish on top. Pour the clams and broth over the top. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Mendocino Grille chef Barry Koslow.
Tested by Tom Wilkinson.
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