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Snapper with white wine, green olives and parsley (dentice alla vernaccia)

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for snapper with white wine, green olives and parsley (dentice alla vernaccia) by Giovanni Pilu from Pilu at Freshwater.

By Giovanni Pilu
  • Serves 6
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Snapper with white wine, green olives and parsley (dentice alla vernaccia)
“In Sardinia we traditionally cook fish whole. I think it has more flavour cooked this way, it looks beautiful sitting on a platter in the centre of the table, and it is not as tricky to serve as you might imagine: just use a tablespoon and fork to break off sections of the fish where it has been scored. When all the fish from one side has been eaten, grasp the head and peel it back towards the tail to remove the skeleton, exposing the flesh on the other side. Snapper is a good fish to eat whole, because there aren’t many small bones, just lots of lovely moist, sweet flesh. The cheek meat on a large fish like this is a delicacy; when I serve this at home, my son Martino and daughter Sofia always fight over the cheeks. Green beans with garlic and mint dressing makes a perfect accompaniment.”


  • 1 3kg snapper, gilled, gutted and scaled
  • 250 ml (1 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 500 ml (2 cups) fish stock
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 30 Bosane olives, cheeks cut from the pit (see note)
  • 500 ml (2 cups) Vernaccia di Oristano (see note)
  • 150 gm butter, diced
  • Small handful finely sliced flat-leaf parsley leaves


  • 1
    Remove snapper from fridge 30-40 minutes before cooking. Cover and set aside in a cool place to come to room temperature.
  • 2
    Using a pair of kitchen scissors, trim fins and tail. Thoroughly rinse belly cavity, removing any blood, then pat dry inside and out. Score snapper on one side, making 5 or 6 diagonal cuts just through to the bone. Sprinkle both sides of the fish generously with sea salt flakes, patting it into the skin.
  • 3
    Preheat oven to 220C. Heat a large heavy-based roasting tin on the stovetop over medium heat. Pour in oil and, when hot, carefully place fish in tin, scored-side down. Cook until skin is crisp (about 6 minutes), then turn and cook for a further 4 minutes.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, place stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  • 5
    Scatter garlic and olives over fish, add wine and bring to the boil. Add hot fish stock, cover tightly with a double layer of foil and cook in oven, basting frequently, until fish is cooked through (about 25 minutes). Check the flesh where the fish is scored: the flesh near the bone at the thickest part of the fish should be white. Remove from oven, place fish on a platter, then cover loosely with foil and set aside in a warm place while you make the sauce. Place roasting tin on stovetop over high heat, bring cooking juices to the boil and boil until reduced by a third. Whisk in the butter. Stir in parsley and spoon sauce over the fish. Serve hot.


Bosane olives are large green olives from Bosa, a small town on the west coast of Sardinia. If they’re unavailable, use Sicilian green olives. Vernaccia di Oristano is a white wine made from an indigenous Sardinian grape. If it’s unavailable, use another dry white wine.
This recipe is from the September 2012 issue of
by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir is published by Lantern, $49.99, hbk. This extract has been reproduced with minor
style changes.

  • undefined: Giovanni Pilu