Master the art of grilling fish: What to choose, cooking time, how to flip & more


fish on grill

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How do we tackle some of those trickier (and delicious) delicacies, such as fish, on the grill? It’s actually quite simple. All you need is proper fish selection, a clean grill, and knowing when and how to turn your chicken of the sea over.


The grill

A clean and well-oiled grill is best for grilling fish. Clean the grill with a metal brush, removing old, charred debris. Then coat the grates with oil to increase heat and lubrication.

Preheat the grill for a good 30 minutes before adding the fish so that the surface is piping hot. Failure to do so results in fish that sticks to the grill and falls apart. The heat from a grill should be hot enough to sear the fish instantly, fusing the meat together on contact.


The fish

Select a fish by its heartiness, or rather how well it will stand up to the heat of a grill. When cooked, some fish — such as flounder or cod — are too flakey and fall apart on a grill, which is bad for business. Selecting a thick or sturdy one — such as halibut, tuna, salmon, swordfish, haddock, grouper and/or mahi mahi — will stand up much better.

Also, like the grill, a coat of oil should go onto the fish during preparation.


The timing

The time needed to cook fish varies depending mostly on the cut and weight of the fish. Steaks generally take a shorter amount of time than grilling a whole fish, but you can tell when a fish is cooked by how the meat begins to separate.

Coastal Living has a delightfully comprehensive chart of how many minutes different types of fish and cuts need to cook on a grill.


The turning

The New York Times suggests using two wide metal spatulas, one pressed on the top of the fish and one on the bottom to turn a steak cut of fish. Likewise, wrapping the fish in grape leaves or a bed of rosemary protects the fish from falling apart and adds flavor. Using tin foil, a cedar plank or fish basket also helps protect the meat.