For some reason, people find grilling fish to be an intimidating feat of grill mastery. It doesn't need to be, and the rewards are well worth the time spent perfecting your fish grilling skills.
Fish is the ultimate fast food. Ready in almost no time at all, grilled fish is an excellent weeknight meal especially for busy families who need to rush out after dinner to run errands or take the kids to judo or dance recitals.
If you follow these seven tips for grilling fish, you will be well on your way to being the grill master of land AND sea.
Yeah, sure, you can lubricate yourself with a beer if that will help take the edge off but we meant the grates.
The most important tip we can give you when it comes to grilling fish is to oil your grates - and the fish! "Fish stuck to grill" is the leading cause of grilled fish failure in the world. Really, oiling your grills is the most important tip of grilling period.
If you're not using a marinade that has oil in it then make sure to add some oil to your fish before laying it on the grill.
2. (Pre)Heat Is Your Friend
Placing any meat (beef, poultry, fish, your forearm) down on a hot grill or griddle causes the flesh to sear, making it less likely for your foods to get stuck to the grates. Not to mention locking in the flavours.
Always make sure to pre-heat your barbecue before putting the fish on the grill. For charcoal grills, half an hour is recommended, and about 10 minutes for gas. Ideally you'll want it at about 400 degrees.
3. Be The Hare, Not The Tortoise
Slow and steady may win some races, like pulled pork, but when it comes to grilling fish, you want to be more like the hare. Fish should only take about 8 minutes per inch of thickness if you're grilling fillets and 10 if you're grilling a whole fish.
4. Fork Test
To check your fish for doneness, use a fork to check that the fish is firm yet flaky and is opaque. If your fish is still glossy or translucent, it needs more time.
The most important accessory you can have for grilling fish is a really good spatula. If you do a lot of whole fish, an extra wide spatula is your best bet. Sometimes, using two spatulas makes the task easier.
Bonus Tip: Only flip once!
If you're concerned about sticking or your grills are spaced far apart, a grilling tray, fish basket or cedar plank will help create a barrier between the fish and your grill. (Note: You still need to oil the fish.)
If you're putting the fish on to skewers, we recommend dual-pronged or flat skewers so that the fish doesn't get stuck when you go to turn or move them.
6. Choose the Right Fish
Some of the best fish for grilling are salmon (or trout), halibut, tuna and swordfish. These are meatier fish than cod or tilapia which are more likely to crumble when you're trying to take them off the grill. They tend to do better when used with the accessories above or in a foil pouch.
Fattier fish are better for grilling because when the fats get released they help to prevent 'stickage'.
7. No Skin Off Your (Fish's) Back
When you can, keeping the skin on the fish will yield a much more positive outcome. The skin creates a barrier, keeping your fish off of the grills. If the skin sticks to the grate it's no bother; simply slide the narrow edge of your spatula between the skin and the fillet to remove it.