How to braai a whole fish, open

Jan Braai
Jan Braai

06 July 2021

The crucial piece of equipment for this recipe is a hinged grid (toeklaprooster) and attempting to turn the fsh without one is silly. Fish like Cape salmon, cod and yellowtail are popular on the braai but there are many other types of fsh you can also braai so ask the fishmonger’s advice and try to ensure the fish you buy is not on an endangered list. Ask for your fish to be gutted and scaled and for its head to be removed. If you caught the fish yourself then I assume you know how to do that.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • (1.5 kg fish feeds about 4, 2 kg fish feeds 6)
  • 1 whole fresh fish (something like Cape salmon, cod or yellowtail)
  • ½ cup butter (melted)
  • 1 tot apricot jam
  • 4 cloves garlic (chopped) juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tot chopped parsley
  • olive or sunfower oil
  • salt and pepper

For the Soetpatat

  • 1 cup honey (or sugar)
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • peel of a quarter of an orange
  • 1 kg sweet potato (peeled and sliced or cut into chunks)
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Melt the butter and mix in the garlic, lemon juice and parsley. You will use this sauce to baste the fish while it is braaing.
  2. An ‘open’ fish has two sides, a flesh side and a skin side. Rub or paint the oil onto both sides and then grind salt and pepper onto the flesh side only.
  3. Place fish in a hinged grid and braai it on medium-to-hot coals, flesh side down, for about 3–4 minutes until the flesh gets a light golden colour. Now turn the grid over and braai the fish skin side down until done. Total braai time should be between 14 and 20 minutes depending on the size of the fish, the height of grid and the heat of the fire. Baste throughout with your sauce made from the melted butter, lemon juice, parsley and garlic. Although you should try and keep it to a minimum, don’t worry if the skin side burns slightly here and there – you’re not going to eat the skin. I treat fsh skin at the braai as a natural tinfoil.
  4. The fish is ready when it has turned white, comes away from the bones when you try to loosen it or flakes when you insert a fork into it. Remember the golden rule: If you think it’s ready, it probably is.

AND … serve with Soetpatat

  1. Melt the honey (or sugar) and butter in a pot. Mix well and when it is all melted, add the cinnamon stick, orange peel, salt and sweet potato slices or chunks.
  2. Stir and mix it all together and then put the lid on the pot. Gently simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes until all the sweet potatoes are soft. During this time you can use a large spoon or spatula to toss the mixture very gently once or twice. Do not remove the lid at any other stage and do not stir more often. Creating mash will taste the same but is not considered stylish.

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