Grilled Whole Fish with Lemon and Pink Peppercorns + Santorini Summer

Santorini (Greece) is one of my favourite places in the world: the towns are charming; the views, dramatic; the people, friendly; and the food, excellent. It’s surprising to learn that it is a place rooted in tradition, but also abreast with modernity. It’s rustic in the underbelly, yet sophisticated on the surface. It’s a place of stunning beauty. It would be terrible if I used any more clichés to describe Santorini. I will let the photos do the talking…

It was in the sleepy town of Imerovigli – clinging precariously onto the cliffs of Santorini island – that I once celebrated my birthday at a fish taverna. Just me, my husband, and our one child (at that time). When we got there, it was nearly sunset and the taverna’s grill had already been fired. I could smell garlic, lemon, oreganoand the sea! Yet we were perched cliffside, high above the Aegean. I looked out over the terrace and I was met by this silver-blue body of water quietly fading into dusk. The dusty-rose sunset just grazed the ripples in the water, making the light dance like strands of shimmering diamonds. I, being from a big city like Toronto, just don’t ever get that here – I was floored by the view! It was a special night indeed. A night so memorable that it made me – to this day – crave for that same wonderful, simple, rustic unforgettable time!

Here’s how my time machine transports me to that place again…

We didn’t have a sea, so we went to our community garden. We didn’t have sand, but we had grass. I carried a tray with my sea bass on it, dressed it, seasoned it, and walked to the fiery grill. Twenty minutes later, our family was feasting on fish, as if we were on the beach or at a cliffside fish taverna.

Today’s recipe is really casual – no exact measurements provided because it is that simple! The only rule is to follow your instinct! The ingredients also call for whatever is available locally or seasonally. After reading Kitchen Confidante’s tips on what to look for when buying fish, I am convinced that we need to choose responsibly. I used sea bass in this recipe, which is deemed “OK to eat” (see link) by the Marine Conservation Society. What about you – what’s your favourite fish to grill and would you choose one that is sustainably caught or farmed?

5.0 from 8 reviews
Grilled Whole Fish with Lemon and Pink Peppercorns
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe Type: Main
Serves: 1 - 2
  • 1 local and seasonal whole fish, preferably MCS-certified, gutted and scaled
  • handful of sea salt
  • a squeeze of lemon
  • a bunch of herbs such as dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary, savory, parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a few pinches of pink peppercorns, crushed
  • lemon wedges
  1. Wash the fish and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Sprinkle salt generously all over the skin and cavity. Rub the salt in with your fingers and massage for 1 minute.
  3. Give it a squeeze of lemon inside the cavity.
  4. Tie a bunch of herbs together and place inside the fish's cavity.
  5. Rub the smashed garlic cloves all over the skin before you stuff it inside the cavity.
  6. Brush fish with olive oil and score each side.
  7. Preheat the grill to 400 degrees F. Rub the grill with generous amounts of olive oil - this will prevent the fish's skin from sticking.
  8. When the grill is hot, place your fish horizontally or diagonally on the grill. Do not touch the fish from this point on until you are ready to flip it.
  9. Cook one side for 10 minutes, uncovered. Generally speaking, grill your fish 10 minutes per 1-inch (2.5 cm) height per side.
  10. Using a metal fish spatula, slowly lift the fish from the grill, and with the aid of another spatula or tongs, flip the fish to the other side.
  11. Cook for another 10 minutes, uncovered. Check for doneness with a thermometer or your finger. Flesh should not be too firm, but have some bounce.
  12. The first side you cooked should be the side you present your fish.
  13. Sprinkle with crushed pink peppercorns. Serve with lemon wedges.



  • Reply June 13, 2012

    Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    I’m drooling over your Santorini pics!! I went three summers ago and loved it – I was amazed that every view perfectly captured all of the postcards I had ever seen. Sigh, ready to go back! At least I have your tasty grilled fish to transport me there mentally :).

  • Sigh. I love your pics! One day, I’ll get there!
    As for the fish: Nomnomnom! Unfortunately for us here in Manila, sustainably-farmed fish is hard to come by. I only know of one supplier!

  • Reply June 13, 2012


    Wow this post is an eye candy every scroll I make, look at Santorini amazing photos as well as the fish.

  • Beautiful Santorini and your fish is equally beautiful! Seafood, meat & veggies here have their own I.D.’s so I can choose responsibly too for my family. I think it is important for all of us.

  • Reply June 13, 2012

    Jennifer (Delicieux)

    No wonder Santorini is your favourite destination, it looks so amazingly beautiful! The blue skies, the blue ocean…what’s not to love. I hope I get there one day.

  • Just last night I was imagining grilling a whole fish and wondering how I’d photograph it for the blog. Then I woke up to your post. Love how you captured the beauty and freshness of the fish. It didn’t look this good in my mind. So much better here. :)

    Greece is still on my bucket list–hub’s has been there so I need to bribe him to return to I can see it too. Thanks for the gorgeous pictures!!!

  • Santorini is high on my list of places I want to go. It is just so gorgeous!!
    This fish dish is stunning! I am not a fan of fish, but my husband and son would go crazy for this!

  • Reply June 13, 2012


    Gorgeous photos of your trip, just breath taking views..I was in dream land there for a minute :). The fish looks lovely and of course the photos are mouth watering. You are such a good story teller great post Jen.

  • Wow….Jen, this is beautiful! I am really enjoying your posts..i find each of them refreshing!
    I live in condo with more green scenery and far from the sea or ocean water…so i could instantly relate! We often make trips to the park and make a nice picnic with our kids, of course i wish it was beach!:)
    Your fish is nothing but delightful! Love the flavors, and your presentation is beautiful as well as your photographs!

  • Reply June 13, 2012


    The photos of Santorini are just wonderful! I’ve been there and you caught its atmosphere.
    I’ll try your fish recipe tomorrow :-)

  • Wow, Jen, your words and stunning images transport us to Santorini! It is a magical place that I hope to visit one day. The memories and photos – esp. the one of you holding your baby with the expanse of sea behind you are priceless. I love fish prepared this way and, since attending a Seafood Summit last year, make a conscious effort to buy sustainable.

  • I have heard and seen about white buildings and blue sky in Greece, but with your photos, I fell in love again. I will keep dreaming to go there… one day I will!! You guys are brave to take your little baby daughter to travel. We traveled internationally, BUT only to Asia… should have done more traveling before having 2nd kid. It was a lot easier with one, but who knew, I thought having one baby was still tough back then! LOL.

    The whole family adores any kinds of fish, and this one looks really delicious! Love the summer – hubby can grill it for me. Sending your link to him!

  • Reply June 13, 2012


    I love all your photos of Greece but am also focused on the lovely picture of the fish with herbs before and after cooking, very nice;-) Your post has transported me to a beautiful place filled with wonderful flavors;-)

  • What lovely photos and the fish recipe is just perfect. Yet to cook a whole fish – need to check that off the list one day soon. I loved visiting Greece many years ago – the white buildings, fresh food and lively atmosphere made it a super fun vacation.

  • Reply June 14, 2012

    Mark Wiens

    I think with a fish that looks (and I’m sure tasted) that good, you can transport your mind or thoughts right back to Santorini, wherever you’re eating it! Flawlessly grilled, that fish looks incredible.

  • Reply June 14, 2012


    I LOVE Santorini!! Spent a weekend there many moons ago when I was based in Athens for work…what a place! Ah, there is truly nothing like having seafood by the sea, simply seasoned and grilled. Your sea bass looks gorgeous, I can just imagine the taste!

  • What amazing pictures! I’ll definitely have to make a trip there. And I’m totally loving this fish. I think I’ll need to make this over the weekend :)

  • Reply June 15, 2012


    What stunning photos! Santorini is definitely on my wish list, and I hope I get there some day.

    I must admit that I’m totally confused by what kind of fish is acceptable. I seem to read conflicting opinions about what is ethical and unethical to eat, so mostly I avoid it.

  • I’d love to visit Santorini one day! The picture of the grilled fish with the pretty scattering of peppercorns is just so lovely Jen! 😀

  • Reply June 15, 2012

    Choc Chip Uru

    I can imagine just relaxing and enjoying the summer surrounded by beautiful dishes like this my friend 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  • what gorgeous pics! + this is such a perfect summer meal – yum!

  • Reply June 15, 2012

    Amy (Savory Moments)

    I’ve never made a whole fish like this before. I think it looks and sounds so delicious though. Very nice presentation as well.

  • Reply June 15, 2012


    Hoping to get to Santorini one day. Thanks for the fish recipe! :)

  • Who wouldn’t fall instantly in love after seeing those photos. How beautiful!

    You take wonderful photographs.

    As for the fish, we’re really careful to keep fish available for the future.

  • Reply June 16, 2012


    Ah, there’s nothing like Greece – you’re bringing back lovely memories. This fish is GORGEOUS. Wow!

  • the photos are stunning Jen! Oh my! That’s probably the bluest sky I’ve ever seen. So beautiful and so peacefully.

  • I need to eat something like this badly..I need to have someone to cook this for me..preferably in Santorini..
    Am I asking for too much? ;D

  • I love Santorini too and this post totally took me back (it’s been 10 years since I was there). Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures. I have been meaning to cook a whole fish too – my kids would think it’s so cool :)

  • Reply June 19, 2012

    Phenomenal Mama

    Wow! What gorgeous plating… the fish looks grilled to perfection.

  • Reply July 7, 2012

    Magic of Spice

    What beautiful photos and such a lovely place! And this dish is just exquisite!

  • amazing photos… you transported me virtually there. I loved the island many years ago when I visited.

  • Reply March 18, 2013


    Concordo plenamente, Santorini é mágico! Dos sitios mais lindos do mundo!

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