Grilling fish doesn’t have to be difficult!
Fish on the grill is a favorite of many. And that includes me!
Getting fresh fish for the grill is easy when you live on the coast or have a fisherman in your family. However, there are alternatives that you can resort to if you live inland and have no local fish market.
Many of the large discount warehouse stores have flash-frozen fish in vacuum-sealed single portions. These work great for times when you want fresh fish and can’t find it locally. Just thaw them in a basin of cold water, and you’ve got fresh fish for dinner.
So now that you have fresh fish and you want to grill it, how can you do so successfully?
10 Tips For Great Grilled Fish
- Have the right tools. Get a good digital grilling thermometer so you don’t have to rely on sight or touch to tell you when the fish is ready. Also, get good long marinate brush, handled tongs and spatula to insure safety when reaching across the grill. That also goes for silicon heat-proof mitts to handle everything with.
- Type of fish. Select firm fleshed fish, such as salmon, grouper, snapper, cod, or halibut. These fish can be obtained as either thick fillets or “steaks.” They hold together well when grilling. Tilapia or flounder, while good, are generally very thin, so they cook too quickly and require additional support, such as a special grilling tray to support them. You can grill them, just not as easily. And if you choose to grill a whole fish, get a fish basket. Clean the interior cavity, and “stuff” with either onions, or spinach, or citrus fruits (lemons and limes and or oranges work well, especially with a grilling glaze that balances and compliments the tangy citrus.)
- Fish conduct heat quickly. Because fish fillets or whole fish have a high concentration of water, they conduct heat quickly. The rule thumb used to be when cooking whole fish to allow 10 minutes per inch of thickness, or 8 minutes when it’s a fillet.
- Prepare the fish. It’s good brush all sides of the fish with a bit of olive oil, so it won’t stick to the grill.
- Know the herbs and spices that work well on the fish you’ve selected. I like to use Slatherin’ Sauce as a glaze for my fish. But, there are other glazes or marinades that will work well, depending on your favorite flavor profile. Try rubbing your fish with Olive Oil, then sprinkle with a bit of granulated garlic, and Kosher salt and freshly grated pepper. That’s a good basic prep that will work well for just about any fish. You can also use basil or oregano both on the fillets or inside the fish’s cavity. Dill is a classic favorite that pairs well with lemon and butter.
- Preheat your grill. Whether charcoal or gas grill, preheating will help your fish sear quickly, locking in the natural flavors and moisture. After the grill is hot, use a wire brush to clean the grill grate, then use a long handled silicon brush to brush the grate with canola oil.
- Sear first. Put the fish on the grill and sear the first side, then flip and sear on the other side.
- Cook steadily. Turn down the heat if this is a gas grill, or if charcoal, move to a cooler spot on the grill, allowing the fish to continue cooking to your preferred doneness.
- Remove from grill. Let the fish ‘rest’ a bit before serving. Not to cool, but to allow the juices to move back to the center of the fish.
- Serve on warm plates. Nothing is worse than placing hot fish on a cold plate. Heat your plates in a slightly warm oven. Or have them in a basin of hot water, removing and drying them just prior to plating the fish.
Photo credit: flickr user woodleywonderworks
Grilling outside on your gas or charcoal grill is an American rite. It is also the source of many injuries and even death. Now I don’t want to scare you all, but I do want you to have a safe Fourth of July, so I’ve put together these grilling safety tips.
According to the National Fire Protection Association’s report “Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment,” by Marty Ahrens, November 2010
- In 2004-2008, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,700 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,200 structure fires and 4,500 outside fires. These 7,700 fires caused an annual average of 13 civilian deaths (to the nearest ten), 120 civilian injuries and $70 million in direct property damage.
- More than one-quarter (29%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 28% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 7% started in the kitchen.
- Flammable or combustible gas or liquid was the item first ignited in half of home outdoor grill fires. In 49% of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, 56% of the outside gas grills, and 39% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire.
According to the Tennessee state Fire Marshall half of grill fires begin on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch. Their office recommends following these safety guidelines:
- Keep the grill away from siding, desk railings, overhanging eaves and branches.
- Keep the grill away from lawn games, foot traffic and play areas.
- Create a 3-foot “safe zone” to keep children and pets away.
- Use grilling tools with long handles; keep several handy.
- Periodically remove grease buildup in trays to prevent ignition.
- Do not leave the grill unattended.
- Keep combustibles away from heat in case gas grills leak.
- Check the hoses for leaks before first use each year. (Applying a light soap and water solution will reveal any escaping propane.) If there are leaks, turn off the valve and have the grill serviced by a professional.
- If you smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
- Gas cylinders should have an overfill protection device (identified with a triangle-shaped hand wheel).
- Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
- Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.
- When using charcoal grills, avoid using starter fluid – use a chimney starter instead. This is a cylindrical metal tube that uses paper to start the coals. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid.
Oh, and do download this PDF on Grilling Safety.
Photo credit: flickr user Ashley R. Good