Grilled fish expresses the complementary contrast of fire and water like nothing else. Moist, savory fish, kissed by smoke and crisped by fire -- what’s not to love? Besides the high risk of overcooking, and also of your precious food sticking to the grill and shredding apart when you try to remove it. So we’ve written this article full of tips and ideas on the best way to grill fish with ease.
The Best Way To Grill Is Clean
First and foremost, your grill needs to be as clean as possible. Stuck-on crud adheres to food. Thus it creates twin problems: either the food sticks to the grill and rips or collapses when removed, or the crud comes with it to the detriment of its flavor and texture. Therefore, scrub down those grill grates and swab them before every grilling session. Also, give them time to heat well before grilling. Your food, including fish, will thank you! We’ve written more about grill care in this blog post.
Prepping to Grill Fish
As mentioned above, pre-heating the grill is even more important with delicate food such as fish. When food touches a cool grate and heats slowly, protein-rich liquid seeps out and dries into a sticky mass. This basically glues the food to the grill. On the other hand, the best way to grill is on hot grates, which cause surface liquids to sizzle away before their proteins can set. Not only does this build a better crust but it reduces sticking.
Likewise, patting fish dry before grilling also helps to prevent sticking. This in turn leads us to one of the major reasons to never grill frozen fish. The process of freezing cuts many tiny holes through any structure. With animal protein, this causes constant weeping of internal juices. Thus the food simply can’t be dried off. Also, the already delicate structure of fish may well fall apart after being chewed up by freezing. So save the frozen fish for soup!
Last but not least, fish cooks famously quickly. Some cooks try to use low heat to avoid overcooking but this is actually the exact wrong approach. Cook fish fast and hot, over or alongside a medium-high fire. Try about 10 to 12 minutes per pound, half on each side, and check after the shorter time period.
Grilling with Ease: Aluminium Foil
Aluminum foil is a grilling mainstay. You can do so many things with it, from line the fire bowl to scrub the grill grates. It’s also useful for cooking in several different ways. For example, wrapping delicate fish in foil helps hold it together and protects it from sticking. A slightly more refined version of this method is making packets, inside which fish steams to flaky perfection. The best way to grill fish is with ease, and aluminum foil makes it easy.
Grilling with Ease: Grill Baskets
Grill baskets add fire, smoke, and direct heat to the benefits of foil. They may be the very best way to grill fish. Because of their latticework, they allow the fire to roast and crisp the fish and the smoke to perfume it. However, if you don’t have a grill basket, don’t worry. A metal cooling rack turned upside down will substitute with ease. The legs at the corners help keep the fish from sliding off, and the same latticework effect applies. This works especially well for whole fish, helping them come off the grill intact and beautiful.
Tasty Wood: Planking Fish
Planked fish sits on the border between grilling and smoking. The chunk of specially chosen wood protects the fish from direct flame, but allows hot air to circulate. Also, the plank itself chars, contributing its smoke to the flavor. Furthermore, it physically prevents the fish from sticking. All these factors and more make planking a good way for beginners to cook fish with ease.
So much more could be written about fish on the grill. For example we hope to address the subject of smoking fish at home, which is worth its own article. However, we hope that the pointers and notes in this article will get you started on the best way to grill fish for maximum deliciousness and with ease.