Grilled Fish is possibly the best match for the average barbecue grill. Although Fish is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about cooking out. Grilled fish is easy, quick, and results in probably one of the tastiest things you’ve ever had barbecued.
The problem lies in the fact that a lot of people consider fish a delicate meat. They consider their barbecue as something less than delicate. The fact is that no other food benefits from the hot and fast properties of the backyard grill better than fish. When it comes to cooking, grilled fish really is a “quickie”.
Different Cuts of Fish
A good place to start with grilled fish is understanding the different types of fish to grill. There is a large range of fish on the market, both fresh-caught and commercially raised. In general, the best choice for grilling is either a whole fish or a fish that is available in a steak cut. (Fillets will work as well, but need to be grilled in foil or in a basket since their thinner size makes them prone to flaking and breaking on a grill.)
Steak cuts offer the advantage of convenience, but nothing beats the presentation of a whole grilled fish. Some widely available types of fish that make excellent candidates for the grill including tuna, salmon, swordfish, monkfish, and mahi-mahi.
When grilling fish, preparation is everything. First, if you’ve purchased the fish frozen, make sure it is completely thawed before grilling. Once the fish is thawed, or if you’ve purchased fresh, rinse the fish in cold water and pat dry. If you’re grilling a steak cut, season the fish with some salt and pepper. After this lightly rub each side in olive oil. If you’re grilling a whole fish, rinse, pat dry and season the body cavity or, alternatively, stuff the cavity with herbs and citrus fruit. (Orange slices and fresh ginger make an excellent choice.)
The next step to grilled fish is to make sure your barbecue grill is as hot as can be. This is not the time to stint on coals. You know the fire you made the last time you burned the food? That’s the fire to make this time. Once the fire is good and hot, put the grill in place. Then quickly coat the surface with some olive oil. (Oiling both the fish and the grill prior to cooking ensures the fish won’t stick while cooking.)
Grilled Fish – Fish Steaks
If you’re cooking fish steaks, place them on the fire and turn them once the edges of the steak become opaque. This will take two or three minutes at most, depending on the thickness of the steak. As with most grilled food, only turn the fish once. Once the other side of the fish is also opaque and the meat is flaking, remove the fish from the heat, hit it with a squirt of fresh lemon juice and serve. When cooking grilled fish, the entire cooking time should be no more than five or six minutes.
If you’re grilling a smaller whole fish, say under three pounds, the cooking time is very similar to that of a fish steak. Place the fish on the grill for approximately two to three minutes per side. Wait until the flesh in the body cavity is opaque and flaking. A whole fish larger than three pounds should be grilled on a slightly cooler fire for about 20 minutes per side and again until the meat is opaque and flaking. You serve whole fish the same way as a steak cut – fresh off the grill and with plenty of fresh lemon.
So get smart. Grilled fish is easy, quick and it should be a part of your next cook-out!