A Girl, A Grill and A Gill

Orange and Herb Grilled Oregon Rockfish

It only made sense that I had lost custody of one of the finest grills ever made in my divorce. Yes, I'd flipped a few burgers and steaks and grilled the pizzas over the years, but the grill was for the most part man's domain. So I left behind the gargantuan manly three-element gas grill with an ancillary side burner and all the bells and whistles in exchange for a more diminutive and delicate charcoal-burning Smoky Joe.

My first summer as a suddenly single after 28 years, I learned to love that Smoky Joe. After work on summer nights I'd wrap a meal of various vegetables, maybe a piece of protein of some kind, herbs or a sauce in foil and toss on the hot coals. Meal for one! I had friends over for smoky kebobs or pizzas. It is during this summer that I also made one of my most important pairing discoveries: A charcoal-blackened hotdog is a perfect match for a Cabernet Sauvignon.

A Girl and Her Grill, Then
As I was falling in love with being at the helm of a charcoal fire, a larger grilling surface to cook for a crowd was in order. This is a picture of me, gleeful upon lighting the first fire in my newly-assembled (by me!!) grill. The sense of accomplishment, both on the assembly job and on claiming the title of grill-master was heady.

That was a few years ago. Now, My Baby once again does the majority of the grilling, but knows enough to hand over the matches and spatula when I get the urge to be in charge. I recently read several articles on grilling a whole fish, something I'd not done before and was eager to try.

We are lucky to have a several fine fish markets in our nearby city, and recently went to choose the perfect whole fish. Away we left with a gorgeous orangish-colored Oregon Rockfish.

At home I sprinkled our little fella inside and out with sea salt and pepper and layered a sliced orange, thyme and basil from the garden in his cavity. Slicing deep slits at an angle along his sides was a trick I'd seen done in Mexico, and allowed for even cooked flesh and the smoky flavor to penetrate through.

A few minutes on each side over medium-hot coals rendered a truly delightful pescine dinner. Served with a warm potato salad, grilled whole carrots and asparagus and our delicious leaf-to-root salsa verde, it was a lovely summer's eve meal.

A Girl and Her Grill, Now

One of our favorite Oregon wines from one of our favorite Oregon wineries provided the perfect backdrop for the fish. Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards 2008 Sauvigonon Blanc carries many qualities of the New Zealand sauvies My Baby and I grew to love while honeymooning there. Perhaps the most playful of Reustle's mostly elegant wines, their 2008 (a sold-out vintage) Sauvignon Blanc has notes of passion fruit and other tropicals atop bright limey citrus, and a zippy acidity for an overall experience I can only sum up as fresh and summery.

Carrot Top Salsa Verde Condiment

To the Ladies: For a Thrill, Seize the Grill!


  1. Well, I'm not one of the ladies, but this was a wonderfully winsome post. Thanks for the late Friday afternoon diversion. It's a great segue to the weekend. :-)

  2. love it! looks fantastic.

  3. Wonderful! I am the undisputed Queen of the Grill!

    I love to cook. I can't give up the spatula and tell him to turn it once after 3 minutes, move to indirect heat for 15 then sear....he'll flip, flip, poke and press until it resembles shoe leather.

    He decided long ago to pick his battles and this wasn't one he could win! ....and he LOVES that I want to cook all the time, so it's a win/win!

  4. I love it. I'm from Oregon and everything about this post just reminds me of home. Summer is so lovely there.
    I did not think about grilling a whole fish... Is it hard to flip and move without breaking it into pieces?

  5. Mariko, a well-oiled fish and well-oiled grill grates are imperative, as well as resisting the urge to move the fish prematurely on the grates. Leaving it be for a full five minutes before moving or flipping is a very good idea. You can see from the photo that our little fishy didn't turn out perfectly in that regard... I deduced that my grates hadn't been oiled enough, so I'll do better next time.

    Happy weekend, everyone.

  6. Looks like you are a pro at the grill! :) The fish sounds amazing!!

  7. That fish is gorgeous, Pam! I remember bundling up in my winter coat and heading out to grill on the rattletrap of a grill I had during my single days. A few years ago we found a grill like the one you lost in the great divide. It was a year end clearance and was half price! We use it year round and love it.

  8. My hubs hates to grill so I do it all here. I have never done a whole fish though. You are one brave woman. And the result is amazing. You should be really proud of all you grilling. Kim

  9. I think Margot is afraid of the grill. I wouldn't mind at all if she wanted to use it, she just seems happy to let me! And I'll grill everything! Fish is popular and so is fruit.

    A grill in the summer is a great way to keep the house cool and the food tasty.


  10. Grilling is good! And that whole fish grilled looks really tasty.

  11. Love the title - fun, fun, fun!
    Is there a recipe for the condiment or did I miss something?

  12. Hot dogs and a Cab, it doesn't get better than that! The fish looks great, too. Will try it ASAP.


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