December 4, 2023

Chef Rilo stares down a whole red snapper.

Chef Rilo puts his roots to work with a Caribbean and Creole inspired Grilled Whole Red Snapper.

From the Heart with Chef Rilo

Every place I’ve lived, traveled to, seen a documentary on, or simply read a recipe, I’ve made it a point to incorporate the ingredients I love into the foods I love. So I pay all sorts of homage to the amazing people, from professionals to cooks at home, cheffing it up and living their best lives in the kitchen. Because when it comes to my food, I’ll be the first to tell you that it comes straight from the heart and soul and yours should too. Don’t feel boxed in to a recipe. Let your imagination run wild to explore all the flavors of the world. Your palate and the palate of family and friends will thank you for it. Trust me. 

Major Key Alert: Preparation is Key!

If you only take one thing from this article, my hope would be to stress the importance preserving enough time to prep. I’ve always have found more joy and satisfaction in the prep than I do in actually cooking. Therefore, always set an adequate amount of time aside to run to the grocery store, chop up your seasonings, which will eventually be the marinade to your protein or veggies, and prep your protein. 

Some of you may be wondering, “where would one find a whole red snapper?” If you are lucky enough to live around a wharf like me, then I would go there because the fish and seafood are usually cheaper and fresher. If not, check at your local grocery store but beware of fish lingering for too long as it may start to get “fishy.” Fish should never, ever smell fishy. Leave it right where you found it, at the store. 


Remember when you are cooking #fromtheheart with #ChefRilo, ingredients are from a place of love and added to taste. Below is the ingredient line up. Feel free to add, modify, replace, or remove as you see fit. 

Prep Time: 30 minutes 

3-4 Sprigs of fresh thyme 
1 Red chili peppers (seeds left in)
1-2 Jalapenos (seeds left in)
1 Diced Tomato 
Some Cilantro 
Some Parsley 
Chopped Scallions 
6-8 Cloves Fresh Garlic (coarsely chopped) (Garlic on everything!) 
Fresh Squeezed OJ 
Touch of Soy Sauce (reduced sodium) 
Kosher Coarse Salt 
Coarse Black Pepper 
Fresh Shaved Ginger 
Olive Oil (Coat the fish evenly) 

****Lowkey probably missing one or two but this is the base (LOL). Do note that I’m random and constantly pushing my taste buds to new levels.****


Prepping Your Fish

Once you’ve identified and selected your fresh medium whole red snapper, ask the people at the wharf or grocery store to remove the scales for you. (#ProTip: Bring a few dollars with you to tip the person helping you out. Removing scales is not part of the job description. It’s the right thing to do.) The next step is slicing three (3) diagonal slits (on each side) so that the marinade gets into the fish. (If I’m being honest, I have no idea why you really need to do this, it just looks good when you finish plus the marinade does penetrate the fish better.) 

All the tasty and aromatic ingredients you just added to your mixing bowl can now be added to your fish. Be sure to season the inside of your fish before stuffing it with the prepped ingredients. Save enough for the inside and outside. Let it sit in marinade for about an hour or so. Feel free to leave it a bit longer. 

How Long To Grill It?

Great question! Fish is delicate and can easily be overcooked. 

Cook Time: 25-30 minutes 
Cooking Temperature: 350-375 Degrees or medium to medium-high direct heat 

Be sure to flip every 4-5 minutes while on the grill to prevent the skin from burning. (#KindOfProTip: Setting a timer on your phone helps.) I used a fish grill basket, which can be found on Amazon or at a local Lowe’s or Home Depot. Once it is done, remove your fish from the grill and be prepared to eat. I recommend eating the fish while hot for optimal taste. Reheating fish is never a good look, in my opinion. 

That’s it, family. I would love to hear how yours turned out. Comment below. Feel free to share with any and everyone. Until next time!  #FromTheHeart 

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