Grilling fish is a great way to enjoy this lean protein and boost your family’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids. It also has the benefit of impressing dinner guests, as it is quick and easy to prepare. With just a little care and preparation, you can grill up a healthy and delicious meal in no time.

When it comes to grilling a fish, it is imperative to buy the freshest fish available in the nearby region.

Selecting your Fish

Fish is a versatile protein. It’s hard to make a bad selection for grilling. The recommendation for choosing oily fish for smoking holds true with grilling fish, too.

Some of the best fish for grilling include:

  • Blackfish
  • Butterfish
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Marlin
  • Salmon
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna

These fish each have unique characteristics and range from lean to meaty and fatty. Some are better cooked as fillets, while others are best when cubed on kabobs or cooked as a steak-cut fish.

Apparatus and Techniques for Keeping the Fish from Sticking

Fish will stick to metal surfaces when it is being cooked at a high temperature. Because of the delicacy of the meat, it is important to take preventative measures to ensure that the meat does not become attached to the grilling surface.

The best ways to do so are:

  1. Wrap the fish in tinfoil and poke holes in the foil to allow heat inside
  2. Wrap the fish in a large lettuce or cabbage leaf. Brush the outside of the lettuce leaf with oil before placing on the grill to keep the leaf from sticking. This produces the same effect as the tinfoil, by keeping the fish from coming in direct contact with a metal surface
  3. If the fish was purchased whole, keep the skin and scales after filleting the fish and simply use that in place of tinfoil or a piece of lettuce. Be sure to oil the outside of the skin that will come in contact with the grilling surface, or cleanup could get very messy.
  4. Spray cooking spray directly on the fish (do not spray the lit grill as this could create an unnecessary and dangerous fire display).
  5. Use a grilling basket. These are easy to find wherever grills or kitchen supplies are sold. They are very handy for keeping the grill surface clean. Make sure to take necessary steps to keep the grill from sticking to the basket, as it is a metal surface that will encourage the fish to stick to it as well.

Recipes for Preparing the Fish

Many will claim that while grilling fish, it does not need to be altered in any way, and that the nature of the cooking brings out the natural flavors of the species.

Consider adding some cracked peppercorns (freshly ground) while grilling a bit of salt and a squeeze of lemon to spice up the fish just a bit. Citrus and fish go together beautifully. It keeps the meat moist while also giving a hint of summer taste to the dish.

On a bit of a fancier and more labor-intensive note, fish can also be marinated prior to grilling. The following recipes are fairly simple and require anywhere from one to eight hours of marinating time, perfect if you are looking to do some morning preparation for an afternoon barbeque:

Lemon Garlic Marinade

  • 1/3 cup of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon mild salsa
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

In a blender, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. While blending, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. In a shallow dish, pour the liquid over the fish fillets or steaks. Place in the fridge for one or two hours. Flip the fish halfway through the marinating time so that both sides may receive the spices.

Tangy Fish Marinade

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 5 teaspoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

In a pot, combine all of the ingredients and stir over medium heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Reduce the sauce until it has thickened. Remove the onions by straining the mixture. In a shallow dish, pour the marinade over the fish fillets or steaks. Set aside for one hour in the refrigerator. Flip the fish halfway through the marinating time so that both sides may receive the spices.

Lemon Herb Marinade

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons horse radish
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

In a blender, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. While blending, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. In a shallow dish, pour the liquid over the fish fillets or steaks. Refrigerate for at least eight hours. Flip the fish halfway through the marinating time so that both sides may receive the spices.

Grilling the Fish

The fish will cook fast once it is placed on the grill. Because of the delicate nature of fish, it’s better to cook on one side, turn once, cook on the other side, and remove from grill. Continued side-to-side flipping will harm the fish and cause it to come apart before being removed from the grill.

How do you know when fish is done cooking on the grill?

When the outside layers flake readily with a fork and the middle is almost flaking, the fish is done. Take care not to overcook the fish, as this is quite simple to do. Cook fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F

How long to grill fish

The usual rule is to give 8-10 minutes of grill time per inch of fish. So, if your fish is two inches thick, grill it for six to eight minutes on each side. However, it is always a good idea to double-check the recipe’s directions.

Is it possible to overcook fish?

Fish has a delicate texture and is easy to overcook. But it’s also critical that it’s well cooked to avoid food poisoning.