One-Dish Fish! (Hint: Bake It in Foil with Fennel and Lime)

Love lime? This whole fish gets an easy marinade with lime juice, plus citrus slices on top



Pretty much everything my husband and I consumed at Kiwayu Safari Village -- a lovely eco-resort right on the Indian Ocean in Kenya -- involved lime in some way: from the virgin Dawa (lime juice mixed with water and a little sugar) we were offered as a refreshment when we first arrived (welcome drinks seem to be standard in East Africa, and I'll admit I kind of wish we had them here), to the wedges of lime served alongside fresh octopus salad or dressed crab at lunch, to the paper-thin slices of lime layered on top of the beautiful whole baked fish presented to us at the dinner table one night. What's more, the bartenders used a special tool to squeeze limes for our cocktails every night: it was a wooden juicer with two long handles, beautiful hand-carved detailing on the top, and a slightly off-center cluster of small holes for the juice to run through. We loved watching the bartenders squeeze lime and after lime with these.
The day before we left, the women working in the small shop at the hotel beckoned me to a corner, where she furtively unwrapped a small bundle. Inside, she had four of the lime squeezers. She said, "We normally don't sell these, but I have some extra -- would you like one?" I didn't hesitate, and I was soon walking back to our bungalow with a lime squeezer all my own.
Below is an adaptation of the recipe, given to me by the chef at Kiwayu, for the whole baked fish with lime -- in addition to the lime slices that get laid on top of the fish, the fish gets bathed in a delicate marinade of lime juice, olive oil and cilantro before baking. Lime heaven!
Fish Baked in Foil with Fennel and Lime
Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 medium whole fish, about 2 1/2 pounds (I used striped bass), head and tail on and scaled
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 large lime, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

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