Making incisions through the skin and flesh (called scoring) takes the guesswork out of cooking whole fish. Here's how to score a whole fish.

Choose the right fish. Round fish–which have an eye on each side of the head, such as bass, snapper, and trout–are ideal.

Make deep cuts. Use a chef's knife to cut through the flesh at a 45-degree angle, down to the bone. Score 1½ inches apart between the pectoral fin and tail.

Fill with flavor. Deep, angled pockets provide a wide area to stuff herbs and thoroughly season the flesh and the skin.

Cook to perfection. Scoring deep cuts lets heat circulate around the flesh for quick, even cooking. Check doneness inside the cut, at the thickest part of the fish. The flesh should be firm and opaque and separate easily from the bone.

Whole Grilled Fish

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Score 1 (2-pound) whole striped bass, gutted, scaled, and trimmed, on both sides; rub evenly with 1½ tablespoons olive oil.

Sprinkle skin and scored flesh with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Place 4 sprigs each of thyme, rosemary, and (if desired) fresh lavender into cavity. Tuck 3 lemon slices, 1 strip lemon rind, and 1 sprig of each herb into each scored slit. Grill 7 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. (Or place fish on a baking pan, and roast at 425° for about 25 minutes.)

SERVES 2 (serving size: about 6 ounces) CALORIES 265; FAT 14.3g (sat 2.3g, mono 8.5g, poly 2.4g); PROTEIN 30g; CARB 3g; FIBER 1g; CHOL 136mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 598mg; CALC 49mg