Grilling Fish: How to Keep It Together

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Grilling fish is oftentimes delicate work. Depending on the texture and size of the fish, it can easily fall apart on the grill and you’re left with (at best) a mean-looking plate. There are ways to prevent that though. Here are some thoughts. 

I recently had the most perfectly cooked sardines on the grill and I immediately wanted to know how that happened. There are plenty of times in my past when I ended up ruining a perfectly good fish or fish fillet because I had not studied my theoretical part and thus failed my practical part. The truth is grilling fish is not that hard, there are just a few things you should be aware of before you start.

Make sure you know what fish you can grill

Not every type of fish can go straight on the grill and keep its shape together. What are your options when it comes to that? Use thick fillets of salmon, swordfish, halibut, tuna, snapper, and grouper. And don’t forget to leave their skins on, the results will be so much better.

There’s no shame in using a grill basket for other types of trickier fish like sole, flounder, and tilapia. If you don’t want to invest in a grill basket, you can wrap them up in foil and then put them on the grill.

Want a recipe to go with that advice? Try this grilled tuna steak with stuffed mushrooms and you definitely won’t regret it.

Clean your grate before grilling fish

Your objective when grilling fish is to sear it so that the outside ends up as crispy as possible, while the inside still remains a bit juicy but cooked all the way through. That means your grate should be hot and clean! How do you achieve that? First, heat the grill and then use a brush to scrub away any and all impurities, like ash, debris and sticky bits of food. After this is done, you should grease it up. Drip some oil over some paper towels and then make sure you wipe the grates down until they’re shiny. This will ensure that your fish fillet doesn’t stick to the grill when exposed to heat.

How to prepare the fish for grilling

Make sure to remove excess moisture by patting it dry. Then brush both sides of the fish with oil. The first side you should grill is the one with the skin on. Place it on the grill perpendicular with the grates. Then cover it and cook it over medium-high heat. When the skin is dry and crispy, flip it. If you try to do that and it sticks to the grates, let it cook for a while more, until it doesn’t stick anymore.

Featured image by Tobias C. Wahl from Pixabay

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