Grilled fish is a fine dish to set before anyone you’d like to treat like royalty. Prepared our way, it comes from the grill succulent and full of flavor. In this article, learn which fish are best for grilling, how much fish to buy and how to store it, easy marinades, how to keep fish from sticking to the grill, the differences between grilling and broiling, and how to make delicious flavored butters
The 8 Best Fish for Grilling
Blackfish: (or tautog) firm white flesh; very mild. Buy 1-inch-thick steaks for grilling.
Butterfish: oily fish; sweet flavor. Grill whole (they weigh less than 1/2 pound each).
Mahi-mahi: (or dolphinfish) low-fat; sweet firm flesh. Grill 1-inch-thick fillets or steaks.
Marlin: meaty, lean, and mild. Grill 1 1/4-inch-thick steaks or cubes for kabobs.
Salmon: pink salmon is the lowest in fat; chinook salmon has the richest flavor. Grill 1-inch-thick fillets or steaks.
Shark: lean to moderately fatty; mild flavored. Grill 1-inch-thick or thicker fillets or steaks.
Swordfish: firm, fairly lean, and sweet; stays moist in cooking. Grill 1 1/4-inch-thick steaks or cubes for kabobs.
Tuna: firm, moderately fatty; flesh turns gray-brown when cooked. Grill 1 1/4-inch thick steaks or cubes for kabobs.
Buying and Storing Fish
Oily fish are the best fish for grilling. Buy 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person the day you plan to cook it. Remove any heavy wrappings and store the fish, loosely wrapped in wax paper, in the refrigerator meat keeper until it’s time to cook.
Marinate the fish, if desired, in 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of minced parsley, rosemary, or dill. Or make a marinade of 1/2 cup of bottled Italian dressing thinned with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or white wine vinegar. Put the fish and marinade in a self-sealing plastic bag. Refrigerate for no more than 1/2 hour. Marinating too long will spoil the flavor and texture of fish.
Drain the fish and pour the marinade into a small pan and heat at the side of the grill to brush on the fish while grilling.
Fish is delicate. To keep it from sticking to the grill, wrap steaks, fillets, or small whole fish in aluminum foil with holes punched in.
Or wrap each piece of fish in a lettuce or cabbage leaf. Secure with a poultry trussing pin or a toothpick that has been well soaked in water. Brush the leaf with oil and place on an oiled grill. The leaf is discarded when the fish is served.
Alternatively, spritz the fish and grill with nonstick spray. Or place the fish in a well-oiled hinged grilling basket.
On the Grill/Under the Broiler
Fish cooks fairly quickly. Depending on thickness, it will need only between 4 and 15 minutes total and will probably have to be turned only once on the grill. Use a wide oiled spatula to turn it. The flesh near the center should almost flake and should be moist when tested with a fork. Serve immediately.
To insure even cooking when preparing thick fish steaks indoors, broil the fish quickly to brown the flesh. Then bake at 375°F, basting occasionally, until the flesh turns opaque.
Butters for Grilling
Flavored butters keep fish and other foods moist on the grill. To make, mix butter with flavorings. Spoon into ramekins and cover with wax paper. For logs, wait until butter has firmed slightly before forming. Wrap well in wax paper, label, date, and freeze until ready to use.
4 Flavored Butter Recipes
Horseradish Butter: 1/4 cup butter, 2 tablespoons drained prepared horseradish, 1/8 teaspoon each cayenne and salt
Honey-Mustard Butter: 1/4 cup butter, 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon honey
Lemon Butter: 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon each cayenne and salt
Herb Butter: 1/4 cup butter, up to 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, tarragon, and/or chives, 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon each cayenne and salt