Fish has become increasingly popular. The high-protein diet craze, healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, greater variety, and growing availability have all contributed to the increase in the American consumption.
Follow the grilling tips and steps below for a heart-healthy meal in minutes! Here's how to cook fish on the grill.
Know your fish before beginning preparation. One of the most important tips for grilling fish is making sure you understand how delicate it will be once it starts cooking.
- Delicate fish such as sole, flounder, tilapia, catfish, trout, snapper, and turbot are easier to handle when grilled in a fish basket, on a foil-lined grill, or in foil pouches. Fillets of these types are generally thin, flake easily, and can fall through the grate as they cook.
- Cod, halibut, Alaskan whitefish, and haddock come in fillets that are a bit thicker, making them easier to grill. However, a fish basket or foil is also recommended. Varieties such as these are particularly tasty when cooked in foil pouches with aromatic veggies and herbs.
- Finally, meatier fish, such as salmon, tuna, shark, swordfish, and mahi mahi, do not require such a high level of protection. Still, using a fish basket is never a bad idea.
Marinate or season the fish correctly before cooking. Cooking fish that tastes great doesn't require a ton of seasonings. The more delicate varieties listed above should be marinated for 10 minutes or less, because the acid in the marinade will "cook" the fish and make it mushy.
- It's best to just sprinkle dry seasonings on delicate fish. Try Old Bay Seasoning, Emeril Lagasse's Fish Rub (it has orange in it and packs great flavor!), or another pre-mixed blend such as Cajun seasoning.
- Meatier fish can be marinated about 20 minutes. Keep marinades simple: for one pound of fish, combine the juice of one lemon (about three tablespoons) with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste, and one teaspoon of dried dill. Brush the marinade over the fish 20 minutes before grilling. Dry seasonings, like those mentioned above, can be added to marinades as well.
Skin or no skin. If you plan to season the fish, remove the skin first so it can be seasoned on both sides. Then, try drizzling a light sauce on top after it is cooked and before serving. You can leave the skin on to keep the fish more intact while grilling. If marinating, remove the skin first.
How to grill fish. After these basic preparations are done:
- Preheat the grill to medium low. Using a brush or spray, lightly oil the grill, basket or foil to keep fish from sticking. Pam for Grilling, as its name suggests, is perfect.
- Grill the fish on one side, watching constantly. Fish can go from done to dry in seconds. If you like, add some of your earlier preparation seasonings to melted butter or olive oil, and baste with the mixture. This basting will help prevent dryness. For your safety, be sure to use a basting brush and have a water bottle handy in case drips flare up.
- To cook in a foil pouch, make squares of foil large enough to contain the fish. Make one large or several individual servings, depending upon what's best for your event. Butter or oil the foil and center the fish on it. Cover with thinly sliced onions, garlic, oranges, lemons, limes (in any combination you like), salt, pepper, and herbs such as fresh dill, basil, rosemary, or Italian parsley. Fold the foil to make a pouch and grill over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Let it rest for five minutes before trying to open the foil.
- Remove the fish from the grill when it is opaque throughout, not when it "flakes easily with a fork." (That actually means the fish is overcooked!) A general rule of thumb is to cook it 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness.
- As with all meats, let the fish rest briefly before serving.
Now that you know how to grill fish, you can try some other grilling ideas and recipes for the specific fish you'd like to cook.