How to grill fish – the lima news
Everything you need to know for a successful Pescatarian barbecue
Like all things you’ve never done before, grilling fish can be… difficult. Don’t expect perfection on your first outing; expect to learn and improve with each round.
Why is fish difficult to grill?
Fish is expensive and extremely easy to make inedible. Too much heat or too much time can turn those puff pastry fillets into bulletproof in a minute in New York City.
The problem with fish is that their flesh is more delicate than that of hardy land animals and therefore more susceptible to clumsiness. This is because fish live – and I don’t think it will be a surprise – in the water. Without getting too scientific and boring, creatures that live in cold, gravity-defying liquid environments require less connective tissue and less fat (and different) than creatures that live on earth.
But here’s the thing with fat: It’s a big part of what makes meat juicy. Think about that well-marbled steak you ate last week. Juicy like a blind object in a gossip rag, right? It’s fat. And there is more of it in beef muscle than in fish muscle.
Of course, fish also have water in their muscles – about three-quarters of their weight – and this water evaporates when you start heating the fish.
Between the lack of fat and the evaporation of water, it is quite easy to take a nice piece of fish and make it drier than dry.
Therefore, the best tip to keep in mind when grilling is to keep an eye on the temperature of the fish. Remember, if it is a bit cooked, you can always put it back on the grill.
Grill whole fish against fish fillets
Before I walk you through how to grill fish, I should discuss the differences between grilling whole fish and fish fillets.
There are many reasons to grill whole fish. On the one hand, the whole fish is a striking presentation. Additionally, whole fish tend to be more heat tolerant. The skin keeps the flesh from drying out, and the bones – because they conduct heat quite poorly – help keep the internal temperature down. However, whole fish can be harder to find than fillets – and more intimidating.
If you go for fillets, go for a thick, solid fish like salmon, tuna, or mahi mahi. They don’t need to be cooked through and won’t collapse when you flip them on the grill. If you like to keep the skin on, especially if you are making something like salmon, grill your fish skin side down for most of the cooking time. After turning them over, let them go for a minute or two. This will give you a nice crispy skin with tenderloins cooked to your perfect doneness level.
If you only have tiny, lean fillets, but are dying to fire up the grill, you can always fold them in foil and place this cute little bundle on the grill. If you go this route, place a layer of lemon slices on top of the fillets before wrapping them in foil. This will help keep them moist and look great when you serve them.
How to grill fish in 5 easy steps
1. Before cooking, clean your grill with a wire brush !!!
2. To prevent your fish from sticking to the grill, brush both sides with cooking oil. Some people prefer oil mayonnaise (see recipe below). The seasoning sticks to it well and it also keeps your fish from sticking to the grill. Speaking of seasoning, season your fish with salt and other spices, like pepper, Old Bay, or your own blend of spices. Remember, if your spice blend contains salt, do not salt the fish separately.
3. Heat your grill over medium-high heat, then place your grill on the heat source to get hot.
4. Place your oiled fish (or mayo) on the grill, presentation side down. The presentation side is the side you want your diners to see. With skinless fillets, the presentation side is the bone side as the skin side will still have connective tissue attached to the flesh. It does not matter; it doesn’t look so pretty.
If you are making a whole fish, like red snapper or sea bass, oil it and lay it down.
5. The rule of thumb for cooking fish is about 5 minutes per side for an inch thick fillet. If you have a meat thermometer, use it. You want an internal temperature of around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The flesh will be almost opaque with just a hint of shimmering translucency. Of course, the doneness of the fish is a personal decision. The more fish you grill, the more you’ll understand what you like and how to achieve it.
Once your fish is cooked, immediately remove it to a hot serving dish and let it rest for a few minutes. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon, a knob of butter or anything else you think is festive and serve immediately. No matter how it goes this time, remember what you did to make it even better next time.
MAYO GRILLED SALMON
For the most appealing presentation, the skinless salmon is served on the bone side (as opposed to the “skin side”). Grill about 8 to 10 minutes total, turning once, for 1-inch fillets. Salmon is cooked when an instant-read thermometer registers 140F or when the interior just becomes opaque. You can use the tip of a knife to separate the flakes at the thickest part of the fillet to check doneness.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes 4 servings
4 salmon fillets (5 ounces), preferably skinless
Mayonnaise as needed (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
Salt as needed
Pepper as needed
Fresh lemon slices as needed (optional)
Parsley, minced, as needed (optional)
1. Preheat the grill. Season the bone side of the salmon fillets with S&P.
2. Brush or spread mayonnaise in a thin layer on both sides.
3. Place fillets bone side down on the grill rack directly over moderately hot coals. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and broil the other side until preferred doneness, about 4 minutes more.
4. Place the fillets on a hot plate and let stand 3 to 5 minutes. While the fillets are resting, squeeze the lemon over them. Garnish fillets with optional chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Grilled salmon with mayonnaise