Gollum’s Ruined Fish

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While it is somewhat widely agreed that a good grilled fish is a delight, it’s possible that spending 500ish years as a shriveled, sparsely-toothed creature may change one’s tastes over time. And while Gollum’s motto of “Sushi-grade or else, precious!” certainly lands him on the good side of many local health regulations (which are, by the way, looser in Mirkwood than practically anywhere else, in case you were wondering – take heed, experimental chefs of Middle-earth), hobbits tend toward the crispy, flaky joys of a good cooked fish.

“Spoiling nice fish, scorching it.”{1}

This recipe works wonderfully with small river fish – trout and the like – though it can certainly be adapted for any fish that will fit on your grill!  Fully-ruined (properly cooked) fish will be flaky the entire way through, without drying out.  Leaving the skin on always helps, as it provides a nice crispy texture, for those who enjoy eating the skin, but also helps to keep much of the moisture inside, as well as helping to hold it together structurally on the grill!

Gollum’s Ruined Fish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2-4

  • 2-4 fish of 8-10″ (20-25 cm) in length, whole, fully cleaned. River trout, tilapia, whitefish, and large perch are all fine options.
  • ⅛ c. (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tsp. (3 g) salt
  • 1 tsp. (2 g) cracked or ground pepper
  • ¼ c. (a small metric handful) roughly chopped parsley
  • ¼ c. (a similarly small metric handful) chopped basil
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. (1 g) ground cayenne pepper (optional)

  1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat, or an open fire until it is reduced to a pile of very hot coals.
  2. Rinse the fish inside and out, then pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Rub both the interior and exterior with olive oil, then stuff the insides with the garlic, herbs, and (optionally) the cayenne.
  4. Make shallow slices in the skin every 1-2″ (2.5-5 cm) with a sharp knife.
  5. Salt and pepper the skin.
  6. Cook the fish on an oiled grill, roughly 4 minutes per side, turning only once. The fish should be handled as little as possible lest it fall apart.
  7. Fend off any nearby Gollum-like creatures with extreme prejudice.
  8. Serve hot, with lemon or lime! And taters! And… more fish!

Cutting into the sides helps the fish to cook evenly; if your fish is particularly thin, the step may not be necessary.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers  []

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