Grilled Tilapia with Garlic and Scallion uses the same aromatics often used for steaming whole fish and produces a lovely sweet result.
The recipe below employs the same flavorings as in the Chinese method for preparing steamed fish ( as illustrated in my Chinese-style Steamed Fish -薑蔥烝羅非魚). Here, though, the Garlic, Scallion and Ginger are stuffed into the belly of the fish, which is then rubbed with salt and grilled to add a nice charred crispiness to the skin.
Ingredient Notes for this Recipe
Here is the Tilapia I am using, which weighs about three-quarters of a Kilogram. Most Tilapia available these days is farmed rather than being caught wild, and this is a pretty typical size.
Sometimes, the fish are cleaned, or eviscerated, before sale, but, if not, you will have to do this yourself. Generally, they are not scaled and this must be done as the scales on a Tilapia are extremely thick and large and definitely not edible. This particular specimen, as you can see, was not eviscerated, which is not usually the case with those purchased frozen from mainstream supermarkets these days.
How to Cook Grilled Tilapia with Garlic and Scallion
To being, once your fish is cleaned and descaled, you need to wash the inner cavity well with water and then make three diagonal slashes along each flank as shown above. This helps the flesh to cook and aids absorption of the flavoring.
Blend together the Soy Sauce, Rice Wine, and Sugar, brush some over the insides, and then stuff the Garlic, Scallion and Ginger into the cavity. If desired, you can close the opening with a skewer but this is generally not necessary.
The next step is more common to Japanese rather than Chinese cookery, but rubbing the skin and fins with a liberal amount of salt helps make them crispy and savory. Afterwards, brush the remaining Soy Sauce mix over the skin and make sure you get a good amount into each of the slashes.
Grill the fish over a moderately high heat for about 15 to twenty minutes on each side until the flesh is tender and there are some charred spots here and there. Remove it from the grill and allow the fish to rest for 5 minutes or so before serving.
As part of a Chinese meal, this can be served on a single platter with guests picking away flesh with chopsticks. I actually ate this whole thing by myself and, in the above picture, you can see how the flesh pulls away easily from the bones. The meat along the spine is especially sweet and the aromatics not only add their own delicious flavour but help to keep the flesh succulent and tender.
Your Recipe Card:
Grilled Tilapia with Garlic and Scallion
- 1 Whole Tilapia
- 4 – 6 Cloves of Garlic
- 3 Scallions cut into finger-length sections
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced Ginger
- 1 Tbsp. each Soy Sauce and Rice Wine
- 1 tsp. Sugar.
- Eviscerate and De-Scale the fish if not already done, then rinse the inner cavity well.
- Make three diagonal slashes into each flank of the fish.
- Blend together the Soy Sauce, the Rice Wine, and the Sugar, stirring well.
- Sprinkle the cavity with some of the Soy Sauce mix, then stuff it with the Garlic, Scallion and Ginger.
- Rub the fins and Skin of the Fish liberally with the Salt, and work some into the into the slashes on the sides. Repeat using the Soy Sauce mixture as well.
- Grill the fish over a moderately hot flame for about 15 to 20 minutes per side until the flesh is tender and a little charring has developed.
- Remove from the grill and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.