Grilling is one of the best cooking methods for fish, ensuring that a delicious flavor will result. This type of cooking is especially beneficial for smaller fish that tend to have a metallic taste. Larger and meatier fish also benefit from this style of cooking in tenderness and juiciness. There are several things to remember when grilling fish.
First, be familiar with the type of fish selected. Ask the attendant at the meat or seafood counter, if unsure. Some fish are considered small and some are considered large. Small fish tend to flake much easier, while larger fish do not. Also, for seasoning purposes, it is important to find out if the fish is a saltwater or freshwater fish. Those who are new to grilling fish should select a fish that has been cleaned or ask the meat attendant to clean it. At home, unwrap the fish and rinse it well under cold water, immediately before preparation. Not all seafood counters are completely sanitary, so this will ensure any residue is removed. Carefully feel opposite the grain, or lines, of the fish, checking for bones. Small bones are often present and they should be carefully pulled out; also watch for them while eating.
Seasonings for both large and small fish do not need to be excessive, especially for grilling. The flame or charcoals will give the fish a delicious flavor from its natural minerals, so over-seasoning it will ruin the flavor. For smaller fish, a marinade may be used for no more than 8 minutes. After this time, the fish’s texture will be altered and make it mushy. Larger fish may be marinated for up to 15 minutes. Freshwater fish tend to have a more metallic taste sometimes, so squirting lemon juice on it or rubbing it with lemon pepper is advised. Larger fish do not require as much lemon juice. Salt, pepper or fish seasoning rub is recommended for seasonings. Garlic, curry and other strong spices are not good for grilling.
After seasoning is completed, cut a piece of foil that is large enough to thoroughly wrap the fish in. Place a dab of olive oil or melted butter in the center of the foil sheet and spread it around. Pepper or light seasoning may alternately be put in the oil and butter instead of directly on the fish. Place the fish in the foil and push in the top and bottom sides of the foil. Continue to seal it by rolling the longer sides together, forming a packet. To determine cooking times, consult an online grilling guide for different thickness cuts and types of fish. Foil packet cooking is recommended for beginners, as it is the easiest method. Foil packets trap the juices in, making the fish tender, which is a much more forgiving method than open grilling. It is important to be sure the sides of the packet is sealed tightly. Halfway through the cooking process, the fish packet will need to be turned over; the juices should not run out of the packet when this happens. To make sure the packet itself will not stick to the grill, grease the grill rack before placing the foil on it.
Open grilling takes practice and should begin after cooking in foil and a fish basket is mastered. Fish is very flaky and tends to stick and fall apart on a grill. Fish basket cooking also takes practice, in regards to yielding a juicy and tender fish. Open air cooking will dry out a fish very quickly once it is done, often within a matter of 2 or more minutes. After grilling with foil is mastered, try placing the fish in a greased fish basket, then on the grill. After basket grilling is mastered, open grilling may be done, but only with large fish. Steaks of mahi mahi, swordfish and shark are good examples of large and meaty fish.