Slash and Grill Sea Bass

The aroma in your backyard will be off the hook with this recipe for grill-smoked sea bass wrapped in cedar boughs and a selection of fresh herbs. It doesn’t get much more rustic than this. It’s the art of grilling. Bring on the flavor!

Serves 6 to 8

What You need: cedar boughs; Butcher twine; 1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs; 1 handful fresh sage sprigs; 1 handful fresh thyme sprigs; 1 handful fresh oregano sprigs.


2 fresh whole sea bass (approx. 2 to 2½ lb/0.9 to 1.125 kg each)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 juicy lemons

6 tbsp (90 mL) white sugar


Cut the cedar boughs into small sprigs about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in length, just a little bigger than the fresh herbs. Soak the cedar boughs and fresh herbs in a large bowl of ice water. This will freshen them up and let them absorb a little bit of extra moisture so they stay moist when grilling. Cut the butcher’s twine into eight 12-inch (30 cm) lengths and soak in the cold water with the fresh herbs. This will help keep the string from burning while on the grill.

Take a sharp knife and slash the flesh on both sides of the fish every 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm), about ½ inch (1 cm) deep.

Season the fish on all sides, inside and outside, with sea salt and black pepper.

Lay a few sprigs of each herb as well as a sprig or two of cedar bough on both sides of the bass. Wrap it up and tie the cedar and herbs to the sea bass with 3 to 4 pieces of butcher twine. Ensure it is nice and tight. You don’t want to completely hide the fish with the herbs, as you want the hot grill flavor to get into the flesh. A sprig or two of each herb and cedar on both sides is plenty.

Fire up your grill to 350–450°F (180–230°C).

Cut the lemons in half across the middle. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the cut side of each lemon half. Set aside.

Place the cedar and herb–wrapped sea bass onto the grill directly over the fire and grill for 10–15 minutes per side. Place the lemons, sugar­coated side down, and grill for 3–5 minutes, until the sugar caramel­izes and burns a little. Set aside.

While the sea bass is grilling, squeeze a little caramelized lemon juice over the fish. Fish is done when the flesh flakes easily with a fork. Remove from grill. Cut string and remove cedar herbs. Squeeze a little grilled lemon over top and serve immediately.


Ted’s Tip

  • If you don’t have your own herb garden, the next best thing is to take a trip to your local market and grab 4 to 5 bunches of different fresh herbs — rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and parsley. you need a fair amount of herbs for this recipe.
  • head to your local fish market and purchase a couple of whole sea bass. have your fishmonger scale, cut and trim the fins.
  • If the grilled lemons are too hot for your hands to squeeze, use your tongs.







From Gastro Grilling: Fired-Up Recipes to Grill Great Everyday Meals by Ted Reader. Copyright © Ted Reader, 2013. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Group (Canada), a Division of Pearson Canada Inc. Photographer credit: Mike McColl.