Whole fish: Everything but the innards

April 17, 2015

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If you had a landlocked childhood, you may think of fish as a) a slab of white meat full of tiny bones, b) a pink slush that comes in a can, or c) a scaly fillet lying on a bed of ice, which is so insultingly overpriced that you wouldn’t dream of buying it, much less cooking it.

This is one of the great luxuries of a Costa Rican beach town: You can almost always order a whole fish. More often than not, the fish was caught that very morning, and you might even get to meet the angler who caught it. Local fishing is a proud tradition on both coasts, and if you’ve never had a grilled snapper – do it.

We ordered this gorgeous specimen at a restaurant in Puerto Viejo, where the seafood is pretty much always delectable. Dissecting such a meal can be awkward at first (where do you start?) but you’ll get the hang of it in no time. The fish are always cleaned, so you won’t find any unappetizing innards in there. Such platters are usually lightly seasoned, so use the lemons liberally.

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