Active prep time: 25 minutes
Special equipment needed – None
Special skills needed – Grilling
Golden pompano is really a special fish with some great properties. It has a nice meaty texture and a clean flavor a little reminiscent of a great wild caught rainbow trout. I can’t get enough of it. The only problem is that it can be difficult to fillet due to its shape. For that reason, I always cook this fish whole. You get a much higher yield and the flavor is more pronounced. I serve them on a plate with a fork for digging the meat out and a bowl for bones, plus a lot of napkins. The spice rub used here goes great on all of the oily or fatty fish. I put it on salmon, cobia, halibut, pompano, or even sturgeon. I make up a quadruple batch and then I have it around for whenever I need it.
This recipe is for 2, but it is a really hearty portion. It can stretch to 4, but you’ll have to pick the fish and split them up, which takes away a bit of the fun in my opinion.
2 Tablespoons Oregano
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
2 Whole Golden Pompano – 1 to 2 lbs each - Gutted and cut with slashes top to bottom
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Heat a grill to high heat, at least 4 degrees. While the grill is heating, mix the spice rub by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Brush the pompano with a light coating of oil. They are oily enough on their own, but this will help more spice stick to the fish and will prevent the skin from burning. These fish do not need to be scaled. Rub the spice mix onto the entire fish, making sure to get the spice down into the cuts as much as possible. Make sure to get some in the cavity of the fish as well.
Place the fish on the grill and cook for 6 minutes. Flip the fish. You may need to use some combination of tongs and a spatula as these things can be heavy and challenging to flip. Try not to tear the skin on the cooked side. Cook for another 6 minutes and then check for doneness.
A perfectly grilled whole fish will have opaque white eyes, and the skin will start to loosen and char. It will still have most of its natural shape, but the gill plates and jaws may start to slump. The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees for all fish, but for an ocean fish from a trusted source, I shoot for taking them off of the grill between 136 and 140 at my house. The fish will continue to cook for a while after you remove it from the heat. You have to make your own food safety decision on that. I rarely measure the temperature. Instead, you can just stick a fork into the thickest part of the fish and turn it about 90 degrees. If the fish flakes and has turned white all the way through, it is done. These can be served with the skin on or off. The meat will separate pretty easily from the bones on the top fillet, then the whole skeleton will usually come right up from the bottom fillet. It takes a little practice, but this type of fish is one of the easiest to work with when roasted. Don’t forget to get the meat that goes above the eye almost down to the mouth. It is easy to get and bigger than on most other fish, plus it is the tastiest bite.