Striped bass, lemon, parsley, cilantro
Whole fish are terrifying. Look at that guy up there! Eyes like the Mona Lisa, following you wherever you go; mouth slightly agape as if shocked at his fate; fins and tail hacked off, somehow reminiscent of Sloth. But fear not, the beast can be tamed with relative ease, though I do owe a bit of thanks to Alice Waters's The Art of Simple Food.
(As an aside, I find entire sections of this cookbook to be of little use for about ten months out of the year in New York. Sure, simple food is great when you have fresh ingredients year round. But I'm with Tyler Cowen on this one -- in places like New York, where ingredients are not always at their freshest for many parts of the year, there is much to be said for process and ingenuity. We northeasterners don't have the luxury of simply letting the ingredients shine. Summer is the exception, though, so to Alice Waters we go.)
Pick a fish
First up is picking the fish. Assume between a half and three quarters of a pound of whole fish per person. Look for shiny fish with well-colored scales and clear, not cloudy, eyes. Ask the fishmonger to remove the scales, guts, fins, and tail. Alright, now you have a nice looking fish! From here things get easier.
Generously season the inside and outside of the fish with salt and pepper. Layer some lemon slices inside, along with a handful of fresh herbs -- tonight it was cilantro and parsley. Tie that baby up with some twine, paint it with a little olive oil, and light a fire under the grill.
When the fire is nice and hot, rub some olive oil on the grate to prevent the fish from sticking. Toss the fish onto a section with medium heat, cover, and check periodically to make sure it doesn't stick. Plan on cooking the first for about ten minutes for each inch of thickness at the fish's thickest part. Then remove the fish from the grill, let it rest for a few minutes, show it off to the assembled onlookers, and filet it either tableside or back in the kitchen. Serve with a little salsa verde or wedges of lemon. (That salsa verde came in handy the next day on a leftover fish sandwich too.)