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
If you have been reading my blog posts for a while, you know that I’m really concerned with many issues and have worked to focus attention on the ones that matter most to me. These are: what we and our children eat, our environment and consuming locally grown food.
Part of my own actions are making sure our packaging is completely recyclable, and using recycled paper for the labels on our Slatherin’ Sauce bottles.
A big part of being concerned about our environment is the issue of sustainability; making sure we tread lightly, renew and improve our earth, our communities and our relationships.
Slather Brand Foods supports initiatives to focus attention on sustainable seafood and when possible, wild caught seafood.
Do you stop to think about the fish you consume? Where did it come from? Who caught it and how far did it have to travel to reach you? Are you eating fish that is under environmental pressure or is over-fished?
Answers to these questions and resources to help you learn more about sustainable seafood can be found at the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative. The SC Aquarium even has a chart showing which fish are available month by month. You can download the PDF of that here. In California, the Monterrey Bay Aquarium also has a Seafood Watch section with advisories and other details.
Shrimping was once a major industry for the Carolina Coast, now, there are fewer shrimpers for many reasons. You can learn more about the issues and locate providers who sell wild caught shrimp via the South Carolina Shrimp Marketing website.
Now I know it’s hard when you live in Iowa to get fresh wild-caught fish and shrimp, but you can choose to purchase wild-caught fish and shrimp from U.S. fisheries waters. It may cost you a bit more to purchase, but the taste is sweeter knowing that you are helping an entire industry survive, not to mention species.
photo credit: Flickr user Bruce Tuten