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Fish on The Grill Top (Part 1)

Posted by Chef Perry Perkins on

Fish on The Grill Top

(Part 1)

~Chef Perry Perkins~

A lot of folks these days are looking for healthier grilling options without sacrificing great flavor.

When my readers contact me asking about great-tasting, guilt-free grilling, I always point them to one of my favorite food groups: fish and seafood. It's hard to beat a succulent, tender bite of firm salmon or tuna, with a crispy char on the outside and just a hint of smoke, fresh from the grill.

Fish and seafood are so simple to cook on Caja China Top Grills...and, ironically, they're one of those foods that intimidate a lot of backyard chefs.

But they shouldn't.

Fish is perfect for the grill. Direct high heat sears fish fast, sealing in moisture and flavor. A simple marinade ( or just salt and pepper), a few minutes on each side, and voila, you have a delicious, nutritious dinner!

The biggest issue with grilling fish or seafood is making sure it doesn't stick to the grates. It's vital to carefully clean and oil your cooking surface, and some folks like to brush the fish with a little oil, as well.

There are four methods I like to use for cooking fish and seafood on a gas or charcoal grill: Direct Grilling, Grill Baskets, Foil Wrapping, and Plank Grilling, and each of them work great.

Go get friendly with your local fish-monger, and see which method works best for you!

Direct Grilling

Direct grilling is best for small apps like shrimp, as well as thick fillets or whole fish. Firmer fleshed fish like salmon, steelhead, and tuna, get great results being grilled directly on the grate. Make sure your oiled grill is as hot as possible before laying on the meat (this will also help to prevent sticking). Likewise, when you go to flip your fish, move it to an unused area of the grill, to ensure that the grate is as hot as possible.

Rule of thumb: small fish/fillets = 2 minutes per side. Thick fillets/steaks, or large whole fish = 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Grill Baskets

The grill basket has become a common barbecue accessory, and more delicate species of fish like trout, tilapia, and sole sometimes fare better when grilled in one of these handy contraptions. Basically, the fish is put in between two grates, which are typically hinged to close together, holding the fish securely inside.

Small sea critters like prawns and scallops are much easier to manage in a grill basket, as well. The main purpose is to keep these more fragile fish from falling into the coals. As fish cooks, the flesh becomes flaky, and can start falling apart (great for eating - tough on the cook). Believe me, I've watched many a hard-won brook trout slip through the grates to become aroma-therapy on the hot coals below. For these kinds of fish, a basket is the way to go!

A good grill basket also makes turning your fish, a delicate and sometimes frustrating operation, a breeze. With a basket, just grab the handle and flip the whole rig. The fish stays locked between the grills. Easy-peasy!

~ Chef Perry


Chef Perry P. Perkins comes from a long line of professional cooks.

As a third generation chef, he focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.

Perry runs a non-profit organization. MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, which teaches nutrition, shopping, and hands on cooking classes or at risk youth.

His cookbooks include La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, and La Caja China Party.

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