Simple Roasted Whole Trout or Salmon

20190419_105340One of life greatest lessons is that if you give a boy a fish, he eats for a day.  But if you teach a boy to fish, you’ll have fish guts in your sink and trip over all his fishing rods in the garage.

My baby grandson was quite enthralled with his uncle!

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I’m actually really glad my medium boy likes loves to fish.  Seriously, there are a whole lot of other things he could be doing that are far, far worse.  Best of all, when he has a successful trip, we all get to share in the spoils.

Ah, the old “I can make a fish head talk” gag.  Boys.

Though there are a lot of ways that you could “dress up” seafood, the best is often the most simple.  When we are in Greece, we almost always have fish simply roasted whole and with a squeeze of lemon.  The flavor of the fish, itself, is the show.  They are best served alongside an equally simple side dish like horta (Greek cooked greens).  This is really a quintessential Greek summer meal.

The tissues are just beginning to separate from each other but without being dried out.  This one is done!

Simple Roasted Whole Trout or Salmon Recipe

  • Difficulty: easier than catching the fish, by far
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  • Whole cold water fish like trout or salmon, these were in the 14-20ish inch range (the heads were removed this time so that they could fit in the pan, but also my son wanted them for crayfish bait!)
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Do your best to wipe down any slime from the skin using a paper towel.  Despite its feel, it does not add any anti-stick protection for your pan.

Place the fish on a shallow roasting pan and lightly coat the outsides and inside cavity of your clean fish with a little olive oil.  There is no real need to add salt at this time as the skin is usually not consumed due to the scales and the flavor will not penetrate it.  You can add a little salt, if desired, to the inside cavity, but it won’t reach all parts.  You may just want to wait until the fish is served to use salt, and it really won’t need it.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes.  The time will depend on the size of your fish, and large fish may take even longer to completely cook at the thickest parts.  You are aiming for flesh that begins to separate and flake, but without it being dried out.  If you are cooking fresh fish, wild or farm raised, that hasn’t been frozen, it is really important to make sure your fish is thoroughly cooked in order to avoid the risk of parasites.  This is a natural phenomenon that can’t always be avoided, so proper cooking is important.  If your fish is cooked to the point that all the muscle tissue is flaky, you’re good.

Serve the fish with a little squeeze of fresh lemon to bring out the best flavor.  If the fish got a little overcooked, drizzle a little olive oil to help add back that moisture (it tastes good anyway even if the fish isn’t dry!).  If you want a little extra flavor kick, try serving this with some skordalia (Greek garlic dip) or tzatziki (Greek yogurt and cucumber dip).  Enjoy!


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