Fish is a great item for the summer grill: Low in calories and excellent in taste, it makes a welcome change from the more predictable barbecue fare. Mostly a matter of timing and making sure the fish does not stick to the grill, it’s also an easy technique to learn.
Barbecue-friendly fish include thick fillets of black cod, salmon, halibut, Mediterranean sea bass and pickerel. Oily fish such as tuna, swordfish, mackerel, sardines and herring also work well because they never stick to the grill and are easy to turn.
To grill fish fillets:
Buy fish at least half-inch thick to prevent it from drying out. Always leave skin attached. Slash it in a few places to prevent curling. You can either remove the skin before serving or serve the crispy skin, which contains much of the healthy Omega-3 oils. For some fish, it’s better not to try to flip it. With halibut, for instance, I’ve had better results by starting it skin-side down and cooking for 10 to 12 minutes without turning. Pickerel, however, is easily flipped: Grill skin-side down for about eight minutes, then turn over and grill flesh-side down for another two minutes.
If there is no skin, oil the fish well, and lift carefully from the grill. Best tools to use are wide spatulas with an edge that you can lever under the fish. A fish basket is an excellent tool as it allows you to turn over the fish without any threat of breakage; remember to still oil the fish well as it can stick to the grill basket, too.
To marinate fish:
Avoid using an acid, as it will eat into the flesh. Best results are achieved by using olive oil, salt, pepper, spices and herbs.
How to buy:
Buy from reputable fish stores. There is a difference in how the same fish tastes depending on where it is purchased. Look for sustainable fish not on the endangered list. Certain fish stores only carry sustainable varieties. The fillets should be glistening, and if you press the flesh it should bounce back.
- Grilled Goan salmon
- Grilled pickerel with spiced avocado mayo and jicama slaw
- Vietnamese-style grilled halibut
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