Grilling a whole fish is not difficult, but there are a few tricks to doing it without having the fish stick to your grill grates. Any whole fish will do, but you generally want them less than about 20 inches long. Make sure they are well coated in oil, well salted and make sure your grill is nice and hot, and you will be fine.
1 or 2whole fish,scaled, gutted and with gills removed
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash the fish well and make 3 to 5 slashes in the meat perpendicular to the backbone on each side of the fish. You are doing this to open the interior of the fish to the heat, so it will cook evenly. Make more slashes closer to the head, where the fish is thicker, than toward the tail, which cooks first. Snip off any sharp fins with kitchen shears or scissors if you want. Leave the tail, as it will crisp up and taste wonderfully nutty. Seriously. Try it.
Coat the fish with olive oil and salt it a little more than you think you ought to; salty fish tastes good! Let the fish sit at room temperature for 20 minutes to an hour.
Get your grill crazy hot, at least 500°F, and scrape the grill grates well to clean them. When you are ready to lay the fish down, dip a paper towel in some oil and grab it with tongs. Wipe down the grill with the oily towel and them immediately lay the fish down on the grill grates. Let them sizzle nicely for a minute or so.
Turn the heat down to medium and cover the grill if you have a gas grill, or just leave the fish on the open grill if you are using wood or charcoal and the grill is very hot. Let the fish cook for a total of 5 to 10 minutes on this side, depending on how thick it is. A general rule is a fish will need 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Estimate this thickness measuring to the fish's spine - remember you are flipping the fish.
To turn the fish, have your tongs in your "off" hand and a big spatula in your good hand. Gently turn the fish over. It should come off the grates cleanly. If not, don't force it. Let the fish back down and come back at it with the spatula, using pressure to pry it off the grates. You don't want to pull the fish away from the grates and have half the skin and meat stick to the grill. Once the fish is flipped, let it cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Once the fish is ready -- check by making sure the meat closest to the bone in the slash that is closest to the head of the fish is fully cooked -- put it on a platter and serve, with a sauce or not.
One last thing:Make sure your fish are scaled, gutted and have their gills removed -- you don't want to eat scales, and gills can make the fish taste bitter, so cut them out with kitchen shears. Watch out! They are sharp.