I have no idea why people are scared of fish, which apparently is the case. Petrifying sharks and piranhas aside, lots of people are supposed to only buy fillets because the whole fish with God forbid guts in and scales on frightens them.
I guess I should cheer if they buy fish fillets at all instead of the boil-in-the-bag. But fillets are not such an easy ride: you have to season them, bread or batter (he he) them, fry or grill and somehow stop them from sticking to the pan – and that’s all not so healthy. Plus, I’ve never seen a pan large enough to fit more than two decent sized fish fillets in it.
Whole fish is much more fun – you have to gut it (which smells) and scale it (which covers the WHOLE place in invisible crap), unless you’re boring and ask the fishmonger to do it for you. You can inspect the eyes (bright) and gills (pink) for freshness. You can serve it to your wicked stepmother and hope she’ll choke on a bone.
But seriously – it’s just easier. Marinate the fish imaginatively or simply, like below; balsamic vinegar zings up just about every fish. Bung it in the oven or under the grill and it will char nicely on the outside but won’t overcook. For those (weird) people who don’t eat the skin, the scales can be left on so minus that hassle.
You allocate a fish per person so no pesky filleting skills are needed: you delegate that job to diners. But it needs to be manageable; and bream is a nice-sized fish. You can cook this way also smallish sea bass, small John Dory and tiny grouper.