Grilling fish scares a lot of people. Today I’m going to take that fear right away from you. I’m going to show you how not to overcook a fish and how to make certain that it doesn’t stick to the grill.
Whether it’s a whole fish or a steak or a fillet, I will make you a fish expert.
I really like using a gas grill when I’m cooking fish. It gives me fabulous temperature control. When you’re doing a soft protein like fish, having that temperature control is great.
When I’m preheating the grill for fish, I like to preheat it full blast at high. It helps the proteins adhere better and gives us a better release.
If you’ve got leftover protein, sauce or whatever from the last time you used the grill, you are actually going to use the high heat of the grill to help you get rid of that. Use a steel brush or a brass brush to get as much of this off as you possibly can before you put the fish on.
The first dish we’re going to work on today is fish tacos. They are great and they’re a lot of fun. They’re also a great way to show off the flavors.
Remember when you go to the fish store, you’re buying what’s freshest, not necessarily what’s called for in a recipe.
You want to hear that sizzle because that means that you’ve gotten the grill hot enough to where the proteins are reacting properly with the grill.
Part of the issue about grilling fish is having a good amount of fat or some sort of lubricant so that we’re not having that sticking problem that everybody is afraid of.
So what I’ve done here is I’ve got all in the marinade. I’m also going to throw some tuna steaks on the gill at the same time and I’ve wrapped my tuna steaks in bacon and I’ve actually brushed them with a little additional oil.
Close the lid. Always cook with your lid closed whether you’re doing charcoal or gas. Leave the lid up if you are grilling plain tuna steaks and want rare center.
After I’ve had the tuna and the cod on for a couple of minutes, it’s time to turn them and do some other stuff with them.
The tuna is an easy flip with just a pair of tongs. What you’re looking for is you want to see that bacon getting crisp. Next I take lemon, garlic and butter and brush it lightly over the fish. You are probably going to get a little bit of flare up so cut your heat down just a little bit.
Now take fish spatulas. They are must-have for handling delicate fish. Use them to flip the cod over. Be gentle with this cod.
The essence of getting really great fish off the grill is making sure that your fillets are fairly thick. Don’t ever try to get them too thinner because you are going to have some problems turning them. Just make sure that it releases from the grill; do it really nice and slowly.
Close the lid and let them cook for a few more minutes.
Once your tuna steaks are pretty well done, get them off the grill and over to your platter and as soon as they come off, hit them one more time with your lemon, garlic sauce.
Let’s get cod off for these wonderful fish tacos that we’re going to make. For doneness of fish, you want to see nice separation. You want to see nice opaque color, slightly past translucent. That’s how you get really nice moist fish.
Grill time for fillets and steaks is 8 minutes for every inch of thickness.
I hope you’re comfortable with fish fillets and fish steaks but nothing is much more impressive to cook on a grill than a whole fish.
So let’s open up the grill.
We can’t cook a whole fish over a direct flame. This is where we get into two zone fire. On a gas grill, it’s simple. You’re just going to totally cut off the back two burners. On the charcoal grill, it’s that two zone fire. You’re going to put the whole fish over that area where the direct charcoal heat is not.
I love to do trout. I like to stuff it with Italian herbs, it kind of gives it that woodsy flavor. I’ve basted these fish with mayonnaise. It is basically oil so it’s going to help us lubricate on the grill so the fish don’t stick. It’s also going to help seal a little moisture in.
Next, get the fish on the grill. I like to do it with my hands. I’m going to go back. Remember I cut the burners off in the back. You’re still going to hear a little sizzle. It’s going to take a minute for the heat to dissipate back.
Close the lid. Give them a few minutes to themselves.
They are ready to flip. Take two spatulas, even if they are big, take two of them. I really like these fish spatulas. They’re worth the 17 dollar investment that you’re going to make in them.
Work yourself under the fish, just to loosen it from the grill. Then put both spatulas underneath the fish. The side of the fish where dorsal fins are found is not hot. Use it with your hand to help guide the fish and just roll it over.
That mayonnaise really does the trick and you’re not going to taste it.
I like to pull the skin back and make sure that it’s really pretty because it’s going to make a better presentation.
The herbs are just giving off this great aroma. You’re going to love this. It’s a fabulous dish and it’s very impressive.
Spend about 10 minutes and your fish should be done. Actually whole fish is a little bit easier to check than even fillets or steaks because you’ve already got a little pocket that you can go looking in. Best thing to do is just ease up right through it and look right to the bone. You should see nice white opaque that is not translucent anymore.
Get the fish off the grill and eat it.
See my favorite indoor grill.
How to Grill Salmon
Salmon is grilled over high heat. While the grill preheats, prepare the salmon. Lightly brush the salmon flesh with olive oil and season evenly with kosher salt and pepper.
Brush the cooking grate clean.
Place the salmon on the cooking grade, flesh side down directly over high heat.
Close the lid and grill the first side long enough so you can lift the fillets off the grate with tongs without sticking, six to eight minutes.
If the meat still sticks, close the lid and grill for another minute.
Turn the fillets over, close the lid and continue grilling for two to three minutes more.
When the salmon is done, the flesh will flake and you can wiggle a spatula into the seam between the flesh and skin.
Scoop the flesh off the skin and transfer the fillets to a platter. Serving the skin is optional.
How to Grill Shrimp
I’m going to show you the way to grill shrimp really juicy. The thing about these little critters is that sometimes they dry out on the grill. So here’s a technique to make them absolutely succulent.
First thing has to do with the way that you skewer them.
They’ve got a tail end and a head end and what I want you to do is first skewer through the tail end and then out the head end and then slide it down the skewer.
This is now going to be your anchor, it’s going to keep all the other shrimp in place.
Beginning with the second one, I want you to skewer just through the head end and then wrap the tail around in the opposite direction and then every shrimp thereafter is done just like the second one – skewered through the head end and then wrapped around
What I’m doing here is creating essentially one large piece of shrimp.
The challenge is that when the shrimp are really small or even medium sized, they dry out quickly but if you make the shrimp in a sense much bigger than they really are, they’re going to stay juicier for longer.
Once you’ve got your skewers assembled, the next thing is to oil the shrimp and season them.
The oil is really important here. You want to use good quality extra virgin olive oil. It does a few things for you.
It’s going to make the shrimp taste better, it’s going to give them a little bit more juiciness and it’s going to prevent the seasonings from burning.
I’ve got a mixture of dried spices and that’s really important because not only do the shrimp have to be succulent, they’ve got to taste good too.
Oil on both sides pretty generous and pretty generous with the seasoning too. Remember there’s a certain amount of seasoning that’s actually going to fall off so account for that and make sure everything is going to taste great.
Now it’s time to go to the grill.
The grill should be preheated to high heat and that means somewhere in the range of 450 to 550 degrees. A lot of people seem to think seafood should be done over a lower heat but actually the smaller the item the higher the heat, particularly with seafood.
You should hear some sizzle. That sizzle is an indication that I am developing flavor. Very important is to close the lid to trap that good smokiness that is developing. That’s going to create even more flavor.
Total cooking time is probably two to four minutes. Let’s say three minutes but I’m going to cook the first side longer than the second side. So maybe two minutes on the first side and one minute on the second.
Reason being I want to develop some char. That’s one of the reasons we love grilled food – it has this charred flavor.
The shrimp will tell you actually when they’re ready to turn. They’ll release nice and easily from the grate.
This technique of skewing the shrimp (no spaces in between) means that they’re going to stay juicier longer.
When shrimp are raw, they have this almost grayish translucent color but when they’re fully cooked and when they’re beautifully cooked that grayish color turns a kind of pearly white and that’s what you’re looking for.
That is beautifully juicy shrimp. These are ready for plating and saucing.
I’m gonna recommend this grill roasted chili and avocado sauce made with some garlic and some dill and some sour cream and mayonnaise.
That is a truly juicy shrimp!