Pouring sizzling-hot oil over anything takes it over the top, but over a gorgeous whole fish? Forget about it. Make it sizzling-hot chili crisp, and bang!—total mic drop. (Chili crisp, a Chinese condiment that is basically the best thing ever, is a perfect mix of crunchy bits of garlic and shallot, spicy chili, and salty-savory notes, all bathed in oil.) The good news is, roasting a whole fish is easy and super forgiving. The meat will stay moist even if it’s in the oven a little too long. The better news is, we also broke it down to a single serving if you feel like pulling out all the self-care stops for yourself. And that can easily be doubled to two servings when it’s time to impress your special fish in the sea.
- Make the fish: Preheat the oven to 450°F and set a rack in the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the fish on the prepared baking sheet. Open the cavity of the fish and season both sides of the flesh with a big pinch of salt. Arrange the garlic cloves near the spine. Lay the fish flat and arrange the slices of orange, lemon, and lime in the cavity.
- Roast the fish for about 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the flesh near the head reads 135°F.
- Meanwhile, make the chili crisp: In a small saucepan, combine the shallot, garlic, cinnamon, anise, cardamom, peppercorns, and oil. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the shallot and garlic are crisp and browned (they will slowly fry as the oil heats up). Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and strain the oil into the bowl; pour the oil back into the saucepan and set over high heat. Discard the cinnamon stick and anise pods and transfer the rest of the spices to the same medium bowl. Add the peanuts, Aleppo pepper, red pepper flakes, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, sugar, salt, and nori and stir to combine. Pour the oil into the medium bowl over the spices. (Careful, it will sizzle!) Set aside.
- Transfer the fish to a serving platter and top with mint and cilantro leaves. Spoon the chili crisp around the fish on the serving platter. Serve immediately.
“Reprinted with permission from Tasty Over the Top: High Drama, Low Maintenance by Tasty, copyright © 2021. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.” Photography copyright: Lauren Volo © 2021