Grilled fish is a delight, but grilling fish and seafood can seem a bit intimidating. Actually, it’s not hard at all to get great results. Here are some basic tips, to help you get it right every time.
- A hot fire is key. You want to cook seafood quickly to retain the natural juices and flavor.
- A clean grill rack is equally important. Fish will stick to a dirty rack and make turning the fish difficult.
- Oil the rack when the barbecue grill is hot, just before you’re ready to cook. Also, oil the fish whenever possible. Use a high-temperature oil, such as grape seed, peanut, or plain olive oil.
- Skin side up or down? Conventional wisdom says to cook the skin side first, but doing the opposite gives a nicer, crusted surface on the non-skin side, and the skin helps the fillet hold together for turning. The result is a moist, more appealing fillet. Try it and you’ll see.
- Fish will hold together better and be less likely to stick if you leave it alone during grilling. Cook it for the estimated time, then try lifting it carefully.
- A wide, thin spatula is essential for flipping and removing fish. Having two close at hand is even better.
- If you’re grilling thin fillets, or just want to make life easier, you can grill fish and seafood in the type of double-sided, long-handled grilling rack used for hamburgers and steaks. There are also specially shaped ones made for grilling whole fish.
- A good rule of thumb is to grill fish for a total of 10 minutes per inch of thickness (measured at the thickest point.) So if you have a half inch thick fillet, grill it for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip it and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Avoid sugary marinades or glazes, especially with thick fillets or whole fish, as the sugars can burn and turn bitter before the fish is fully cooked.
- As with other methods, fish is fully cooked when it begins to flake and is opaque at the center. Some fish, like salmon and tuna, are often served while still somewhat ‘rare’, like steak.
- Tuna, salmon, swordfish, mahi-mahi and yellowtail are some of the best fish to grill.