Whole Smoke-Roasted Striped Bass and Rocket Pesto

  • Yield : 20 to 30 servings
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  • 1 whole striped bass or salmon, around 20 to 30 pounds (9 to 13.7 kg), scaled
  • 2 cups (475 ml) olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 5 cups (300 g) fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus 1 whole bunch fresh Italian parsley
  • 8 sprigs rosemary, needles removed and stems discarded
  • 1 cup (235 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (75 g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (12 g) ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (80 g) loosely packed basil leaves
  • 10 tarragon sprigs
  • 12 thyme sprigs
  • Rocket Pesto (recipe follows)
  • Cheesy Grilled Corn (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound (455 g) arugula (also known as rocket)
  • 1 1/2 cups (220 g) pistachios, shells removed, toasted
  • 2 cups (475 ml) olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 20 ears corn, shucked, snapped in half, and blanched for 30 seconds
  • 4 cups (480 g) crumbled queso fresco (if you can't find queso fresco, feta works as well)
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) chili powder
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 10 limes, cut into 6 wedges each
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups (475 ml) vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste


Step 1

Make sure the fish has had all its scales removed, and that the inside cavity is clean. If there are any scales left, remove them using the back of a knife to scrape the skin from tail to head. Pat the skin dry with a towel.

Step 2

Prepare smoker and bring heat to 400degreesF (200 degrees C). We recommend oak or hickory as the smoke wood.

Step 3

In a blender, puree the olive oil, garlic, 5 cups (300 g) parsley leaves, rosemary, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until smooth. Coat the fish with the herb mixture inside and out. Stuff the cavity with the basil, tarragon, thyme, and remaining 1 bunch parsley.

Step 4

Transfer fish to a large foil-lined baking sheet, and smoke for 5 minutes for every inch (2.5 cm) the fish measures at its largest circumference, or until the fish's internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F (60 degrees C).

Step 5

To serve, gently transfer roasted fish to a large platter or cutting board and drizzle with Rocket Pesto. Serve with Cheesy Grilled Corn.

Step 6

Pesto is traditionally made with basil, garlic, parmesan or pecorino cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil, but we thought we'd shake things up a bit by replacing the basil with arugula and substituting pistachios for pine nuts.

Step 7

In a food processor, puree the pistachios, garlic, and cheese. Add arugula and pulse to combine. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 8

Grilled corn with cotija cheese (a hard, dry cheese named for the town in Mexico from whence it originates), mayonnaise, and a dusting of chili powder is popular street food in Mexico. One bite and it's easy to see why. Here's our version.

Step 9

In the bowl of a food processor, puree the egg yolks, garlic, and lemon juice. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Step 10

Prepare grill. When fire is medium-hot (you should not be able to hold your hand over the coals for more than 10 seconds), grill corn for about 5 minutes, rolling it to toast all sides and keep it from burning (C). Remove from grill and slather with aioli, then sprinkle with queso fresco and chili powder. Serve with lime wedges.

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