Feel like you’re stepping into unknown territory when it comes to grilling fish? There’s no need to stress! Achieving that perfectly crispy texture on the outside and that melts-like-butter softness on the inside is simple and fast … as long as you’re prepared. So get those BBQ mitts ready: Here’s everything you need to know about grilling your fish to perfection.
First, make sure the fish isn’t too moist on the outside before you throw it on the grates. Wet fish will steam, not sear, when you try to barbecue it. Dry it off by wrapping it with paper towels and placing it on a platter in your refrigerator until you’ve prepped your barbie.
The most difficult part of barbecuing your catch of the day is making sure it doesn’t stick to the grill. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that your fish stays on the bone and not on the grates. First, place aluminum foil over the grates and fire up the grill to medium-high heat. Allow the grates to get hot, and then use tongs to carefully remove the aluminum foil. Scrape the grates thoroughly with a wire brush until they’re clean. Then, dip a few folded paper towel sheets into oil, pinch them with the tongs and quickly wipe the oil onto the grates. Re-dip the paper towels and wipe the grates five times total to create a perfectly nonstick surface. Placing your fish on an already-hot grill will keep the fish moist by locking in juices and searing the outer surface.
Take the fish out of the fridge and brush it with a light coating of oil on each side, then season it with salt, pepper and your favorite spices. Then, place it diagonally over the grates; positioning it this way makes it much easier to flip the fish and remove it from the grill.
You’ll want to cook the fish 8 minutes for every inch of its thickness. If it’s a whole fish, cook it 10 minutes per inch. Two minutes before cooking time is up, test the fish with a fork: When it’s ready, the meat should just start to flake off and it should appear opaque throughout. Don’t let it get too flaky though, because that means your fish has completely dried out. If the fish appears glossy or translucent at all, don’t remove it from the flame; it’s still raw!
To make sure each part of your fish is equally cooked, make sure the filet or steak is evenly cut. Thick steaks such as salmon, tuna, swordfish and halibut are sturdy and hold up to being grilled directly on the grates. Thinner filets such as tilapia and flounder are more delicate and tend to fall apart when you try to lift them off the grill. To keep your filets in one piece, wrap them in aluminum foil packets before barbecuing them. If your fish is whole, stuff it with lemon slices for added flavor and even heat distribution.
Seal in moisture by spritzing the fish with lemon juice while it’s cooking. When one side is done, slip two thin spatulas (one on each end) underneath the fish and lift the handle to flip.
And that’s the secret to perfectly grilled fish! Do you know any other tricks for cooking deep-sea fare on the barbie? Share them with us!