We all know that we should be Every health and lifestyle guru will tell you that you should be eating more fish. It is leaner than most meats and full of those cholesterol lowering, heart healthy Omega-3s and once the the grill is hot, you can usually cook it in under 10 minutes. Yet, even the most seasoned griller will give pause before heading out to the grill with fish.
Too often grilled fish is overcooked, or falls apart… and forget about trying to flip it. Fear no more! By following guidelines below, you will be armed with the confidence to march out to the grill to cook up fish fillets and steaks for a crowd. 🙂
Preheat the grill on high heat – the surface temperature should be 400°F to 450°F. This accomplishes several things – most importantly, it will help the fish from sticking to the grill by cooking it faster and allowing the fish to release easily from the grates. The high heat will also give those great grill marks that we look for and full flavor by helping to caramelize the fish.
A super clean and oiled grate is going to prevent sticking. After preheating the grill for 15 to 20 minutes, bush the grates with a wire brush to make sure all the bits leftover from your last outing are gone and the grates are smooth. Use tongs and an oil soaked paper towel to apply oil to the grates right before grilling.
For insurance, coat the fish with some sort of fat or oil. Pat the fish dry of any marinade and brush the fish with a little fat or oil right before grilling to help prevent sticking.
Fish skin is a griller’s best friend. Whether you are dealing with steaks or fillets, the skin helps keep the fish in one piece. Plus, the skin can be pretty tasty if you take the time to get it nice and brown and crisp. If you wish to eat the skin, be sure to pick a fillet that is thick enough to ensure you have the time to get it crisp without overcooking the fish.
The successful flip. There is that defining moment of perceived success when you go flip the fish. It should easily release from the grill, there may be a little sticking, but for the most part it should come up. If your spatula won’t slide under, back up and give it a few moments before you try again. Make it easier on yourself by investing in a wide spatula that has a tapered edge.
Cook with the lid down. Since we’re grilling with high heat, we want to fish to cook quickly. The exception to this might be tuna or salmon if you just want to sear the outside leaving the fish more rare in the center.
Cooked, not dried out. I find that rule of cooking fish 10 minutes per inch leaves the fish a little overdone for my taste; 8 minutes total cooking time works out a little better. However, it is best to rely on your eyes for this one. If you suspect that the fish is cooked, it should start to flake. Use a fork to test and the inside should appear no longer translucent. Now the key here is to pull it just before it turns completely opaque. The carryover heat will finish it up as the fish rests for 3 or 4 minutes before serving.
Still not sure? If you are still working up the confidence, try using a flexible grilling basket like this one from Bull Outdoor Products. Just load the basket and flipping your fish will be a breeze!
Cheers and Happy Grilling!