Life Food & Drink

Friday 24 May 2019

Alison Roman's Whole Roasted Snapper with Harissa and Sun Gold Tomatoes

Roasted snapper
Roasted snapper

Alison Roman’s flavoursome, highly cookable recipes are appealingly easy and produce dinners that will tantalise everyone’s tastebuds

Whole Roasted Snapper with Harissa and Sun Gold Tomatoes

Whole fish is not always an obvious choice for lots of people, and I get that. There are fins involved, sometimes a whole head (with eyes! ), and all those bones. But just like cooking a steak or chicken breast on the bone, fish also benefits from leaving it au naturel. The fat from the skin and the bones keeps it from drying out, and — best of all — you don’t have to do anything besides pop it into the oven. When picking up your new friend, be sure that the fishmonger has cleaned the fish for you, meaning it’s been gutted and scaled (I like leaving the heads on, but that’s up to you). This will almost always be the case, but better safe than sorry, so double-check.

The garlicky harissa mixture here not only seasons the snapper but also the super-sweet cherry tomatoes that burst alongside the fish as it roasts, creating a kind of spicy tomato sauce to serve with it. This is good as is, or serve with a bowl of couscous, quinoa or even some herby pasta next to a pile of some lightly dressed lemony greens.

Serves 4


2 tbsp harissa

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

3 tbsp olive oil

1 × 675 g snapper, or 2 smaller sea bream, porgies or sea bass, scaled and gutted

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

500g yellow or red cherry tomatoes

1 orange, lime or lemon, halved, for serving

Flaky sea salt


1. Preheat the oven to 250°C/500°F.

2. Combine the harissa, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Season the fish with kosher salt and pepper, including inside the cavity. Rub some of the harissa mixture on both sides and the inside of the fish.

3. Place the fish on a rimmed baking tray. Toss the tomatoes with the remaining harissa mixture and scatter them around the fish. Place in the oven and roast until the fish is cooked through and the tomatoes all burst and are starting to caramelise, 15-20 minutes.

4. Remove the fish from the oven and let it rest about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, separate the fillets from the spine, and place the fillets on a separate serving platter. Lift the spine out (the head and tail should come with it) and save it for stock, or give it to a cartoon cat.

5. Place the first fillet on top of the second one and top with the tomatoes. Squeeze the orange over everything and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

Chef’s tip

If you wish to make this with fillets, choose the largest, meatiest ones you can find and decrease the cooking time to 5-10 minutes.


Extracted from DINING IN by Alison Roman (Hardie Grant, £22)

Photography by Michael Graydon & Nikole Herriott

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