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Psari sta Karvouna: Grilled Fish

Keeping it simple


Grilled Prawns

Grilled Prawns

Photo © Jim Stanfield

In Greek: ψάρι στα κάρβουνα, pronounced PSAH-ree stah KAR-voo-nah

Greece has always been famous for its seafood, and for the simplicity of recipes that showcase the natural taste, rather than mask it. Grilled fish is a favorite all over the country and a specialty of the islands and coastal areas.

Favorite fish (and seafood) for grilling

  • Bonito
  • Dentex
  • Eel
  • Grouper
  • John Dory
  • Mackerel
  • Octopus
  • Parrotfish
  • Pike
  • Prawns
  • Red Mullet
  • Sea Bass
  • Sea Bream
  • Snapper
  • Swordfish
  • Trout (a specialty in Northern Greece)

In recent years, tuna and mahi-mahi have become popular for grilling as well.


The most authentic recipe for any of these fish is very simple:


  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • Greek oregano (rigani) or thyme, crushed
  • thin lemon slices (for whole fish grilled in foil)

If using small to medium whole fish, scrape off scales and carefully slice into stomach cavity to remove intestines (leave head intact if possible). Rinse well and pat dry. (For large fish, leave the scales on to protect from burning as they need longer cooking time. Remove skin before eating.)

Fire up the grill.

Lightly salt the interior and exterior of whole fish, or both sides of fish steaks. Set in a colander over a bowl and refrigerate until the grill is ready.

Brush fish with olive oil and lemon juice, and sprinkle with coarsely ground oregano or thyme.

Brush the grid or grill with olive oil to prevent sticking, and grill the fish (using a hand-held grid makes turning easier), turning often to grill evenly on both sides.

    Alternatively, fish can be wrapped in foil and grilled. For whole fish, insert a thin slice of lemon in each of the gill openings. If head has been removed, insert slices in the stomach cavity. Wrap loosely in foil, and grill.

Cooking time:

  • Fish steaks: 1-inch steaks generally need 4-5 minutes per side.
  • Whole fish: Depends on the size. Cook until flesh is firm and just ready to flake.

Serve with:

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