Top 5 Tips for Grilling Fish

by zesty on August 25, 2009 · 15 comments

Hello to you!  I wanted to piggy back on yesterday’s grilled fish post and share with you some really simple tips to follow when grilling fish.  I have received a lot of emails regarding fish and the problems people are having with grilling it which is what inspired this post.

Fish is one of the easiest food items to grill in addition to being one of the healthiest. A good fish on the grill is dependent on how fresh the fish is, the type of fish, the bone structure and the fat content. However, grilling is one of the best ways to cook fish which usually results in a very flavorful, juicy fish. Grill and fish go hand in hand. They are like two Kleenex in a box. It is like fish is made for grilling or the grill is made for the fish. Nothing can be more compatible than these two.

Hopefully with these tips today your mind will be put at ease and you will be grilling tonight.


1. Get it Hot

Whether using gas, charcoal, electric or grill pans, there’s a secret to grilling fish: Get your grill as hot as you can make it. You want to sear the fish as soon as it hits the grate. This seals in the juices and immediately firms the flesh; it’s less likely to stick to the grate and it’s easier to flip.

2. Buy the right fish

When it comes to selecting fish, fresh fish should smell fresh, have firm flesh and a moist appearance. If the fish smells too fishy ask for something else. To keep fish fresh, make sure it is tightly wrapped and kept cold. Do not plan on keeping fresh fish more than a couple of days. If possible try to purchase fresh fish the same day you plan to cook it. If you can’t cook the fish within about 2 days, freeze it. Frozen fish should be frozen solid and also, tightly wrapped.

Generally you buy fish either whole, in fillets or steaks. Fillets will give you the most trouble because they tend to fall apart a little easier. Steaks and whole fish hold together better but take longer to grill. If you are grilling whole fish, stuff it with something like lemon slices. This not only adds to the flavor but creates a space between the sides to let the heat get in.

3. How long?

The basic rule is to cook fish 8 minutes per inch of thickness, or 10 minutes per inch if it’s a whole fish. Check it two minutes before you think it should be done, keeping in mind that everything keeps cooking for a few minutes after it leaves the grill. Fish is best when it just starts to flake off with a fork.


4.  Brush the grill with oil right before adding the fish.

Pick up a wad of paper towel with tongs, dip it in oil, and brush the preheated grill right before adding the fish. Forget cooking sprays. Oil works even better since it can be applied directly to the grill and not only to the fish.

5. Glaze only after a brief sear on both sides.

If you want to cover your fish with a glaze or a sauce, first grill it plain on very high heat for 2 minutes per side. Then turn down the heat to the lowest setting, brush with glaze and continue cooking on both sides until done.


So there you have some really quick and common sense tips to get you through the next time you grill some fish.  Now I have a job for you!  In the comments tell me your favorite fish and your favorite way to eat it (If of course you like it).  I am up in the air heading for Washington ready for a full week of meetings.  Have a great Tuesday and I will see you tomorrow.

Take care


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