Make the brine– put everything in a container large enough to hold the fish. Add 200ml warm water to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the fish to the bowl and top with enough cold water to cover the fish. Set your timer for 45 minutes.
Make the rub If using the lemon zest- dry out before use as follows- set your oven to 120c/gas 2, grate the zest onto a sheet pf parchment paper and place on a baking sheet, dry out in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. This will intensify the flavour and you can grind it together with the other ingredients nicely. Put the Peppercorns, fennel, salt and sugar in a mortar and pound and grind with a pestle to break up into tiny bits. Stir in the rest of the ingredients with the pestle so they combine really well.
To prepare for cooking- after 45 minutes, drain the fish over the bowl, place on a prep board and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper or a tea towel. Cut 8 slits along the fish, oil all over, then dust heavily with the rub. Do this on both sides and pop a little inside the fish.
To roast in the oven- set the temperature at 200c/180c fan/gas 6. Lay the fish on a foil or parchment lined tin. Slide the lemon slices into the slits and add the herbs inside the belly cavity. Roast for 20-30 minutes. Test at the thickest part with a temperature probe, it should read 60c- At this point, remove from the oven, cover with foil and rest for about 7 minutes. Serve.
To BBQ– set your BBQ for indirect cooking at 180-200c. Add a handful of soaked apple or oak woodchips to each charcoal basket and place the fish along the centre of the grill, pop the lid on and cook for 17-25 minutes- internal temperature as above. NOTE: I usually cook the fish on a convection tray, this has holes in it so the smoke can reach both sides of the fish.
Barbecued Whole Fish
1 large whole, or 2 medium fish total weight around 1.2-1.4kg, prepared- e.g. Red Snapper, Bass, Bream, Mullet etc
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
A few slices of onion
1 smashed clove of garlic
Both ends of a lemon
A few sprigs of herbs- parsley, fennel
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon garlic granules
¼ teaspoon each- dried thyme, rosemary, and oregano
Dried grated zest of a lemon (optional- see note in method)
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices of lemon
Small bunch of fresh herbs- parsley, fennel, thyme, oregano etc even 1 will do!