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How to Make Grilled Fish

Don't be afraid to throw a couple of fillets or even a whole fish on the barbie. If you know what you're doing, it won't fall apart.


  • Step 1: Decide between whole and fillets Decide between grilling fillets or a whole fish. If you choose the latter, have it cleaned and scaled.
  • Step 2: Select your fish Select your fish. Tuna and swordfish are the easiest to grill because the flesh is thick and firm. Monkfish, mahimahi, tilefish, and salmon also grill well. Stay away from cod and halibut, whose softness makes them difficult to flip, and fish fillets that are cut thinly, like flounder.
  • TIP: Fish larger than three pounds are difficult to flip on the grill.
  • Step 3: Start with a clean grill Start with a clean grill by burning off the stuck-on food of past cookouts. For a charcoal grill, light some coals; with a gas grill, set it on high and close the lid. After about 20 minutes, let the grill cool. Scrape off the burnt-on bits with a steel brush and end by wiping down the grill with a clean cloth soaked in vegetable oil.
  • Step 4: Heat things up Get your grill hot; otherwise, the fish will stick to it. If you're using charcoal, don't start cooking until the coals have turned ash- gray. With a gas grill, heat it on high for at least 15 minutes, with the lid down.
  • Step 5: Marinate your fish If you plan to marinate your fish, do it no earlier than 30 minutes beforehand: If you let it sit longer than that, a sugary marinade might make the fish stick to the grates and a vinegar-based one could pickle it. Let fish marinate in the refrigerator.
  • TIP: Never baste your fish with the liquid in which it was marinated or you could transfer bacteria to it.
  • Step 6: Prep the fish If you're seasoning the fillets, mix together spices you like in a small bowl and rub them on the fish just before grilling. If you're cooking a whole fish, stick spices into diagonal one-quarter inch slits that you make on both sides of the fish, and rub the entire fish with olive oil or brush it with mayonnaise, which will help keep it from sticking to the grill.
  • Step 7: Oil the grate Just before you put on the fish, grease the grate with cooking spray or by brushing it with vegetable oil. Be prepared: The grill may flare up as you rub oil on the grate.
  • TIP: Once you put the fish on the grill, don't move it around the grill, or you'll risk it sticking to the grate.
  • Step 8: Start grilling Put fillets on the grill flesh-side down, leaving a bit of space around each. Cook about 10 minutes total for each inch of thickness, turning it over with a spatula about halfway through. A whole fish also needs to be flipped halfway through cooking. One that's under two pounds will take about eight minutes total to grill; a three-pounder takes 15 to 18 minutes.
  • TIP: Invest in a special grill pan with small holes; fish have a tendency to fall through grates.
  • Step 9: Check for doneness Check for doneness by poking it with the tip of a fork or knife; if the flesh flakes and its color has turned opaque, it's done. Let it rest for five minutes before serving.
  • FACT: Japan consumes 30 percent of the world's fresh fish.

You Will Need

  • A grill
  • A steel brush
  • A clean cloth
  • Vegetable oil
  • Spices
  • Mayonnaise
  • A spatula
  • Marinade (optional)
  • A pastry brush (optional)
  • Cooking spray (optional)
  • A grill pan (optional)

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