The key to this simple dish, which earned our Test Kitchen's highest rating, is high quality fresh fish. It's served in many of the open-air restaurants of Benin's major city, Cotonou, and is always grilled over a wood fire. Wood chips infuse a similar smoky flavor. You can substitute red snapper, which cooks in about 8 minutes. A fish basket works great, but a perforated sheet of aluminum foil will also let you easily remove the fish from the grill.
1/4 cup apple wood chips
2 dried habanero chiles
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (3-pound) striped bass fillet (about 1 inch thick)
1 lemon, thinly sliced
How to Make It
Cover apple wood chips with water, and soak for 1 hour. Drain well.
Place chiles in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground. Place 1/8 teaspoon ground chile in a small bowl (reserve remaining ground chile for another use). Add oil, salt, and black pepper, stirring to combine. Rub spice mixture over fish; refrigerate 30 minutes.
Place wood chips on hot coals. Coat a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil with cooking spray; pierce foil several times with a fork. Place foil on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Place fish on foil; arrange lemon slices over fish. Grill 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve immediately.
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