Food & Drink

Whole Roasted Pompano

Serves 1 to 2

The Texas chef shares a recipe from his new cookbook

Photo: Jody Horton, reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith

“I’m pretty sure I could fish before I could talk,” says Texas chef Jon Bonnell, who grew up casting for largemouth bass and crappie in a pond on his granddad’s cattle farm before going on to chase trout, tarpon, cobia, you name it. A year ago, Bonnell turned his lifelong passion for seafood into Waters, the second of two restaurants he helms in his hometown of Fort Worth. Now he’s giving the rest of us a leg up with his recently released cookbook. Cleverly divided into sections based on preparation, from chilled and raw to crispy-fried, the book includes recipes that range from the familiar (Creole gumbo and barbecued shrimp) to the showstopping (oysters and shiitakes in a brandy cream sauce). “People are so intimidated by seafood,” Bonnell says, “so I’ve made sure to give lots of instruction. I’m not keeping any secrets.”


    • 1 whole pompano, roughly 1½ to 2 pounds*

    • 2 tsp. pink sea salt

    • 1 tbsp. olive oil

    • 6–8 sprigs fresh dill

    • 1 lemon, thinly sliced


  1. *Preparing the fish:

    The only cleaning required for the pompano is to gut the fish. Rinse well with cold water both inside and outside, allow to dry, then rub all over with olive oil and sea salt (inside the cavity as well).

  2. For the dish:

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  3. Place the fish on a sheet pan over a few sprigs of fresh dill, then stuff the inside loosely with lemon slices and remaining dill. Roast for 18–20 minutes, or until done. The internal temperature of the meat should reach 145 degrees. Allow to cool slightly, then serve whole.

Recipe from chef Jon Bonnell’s Waters, Fine Coastal Cuisine.