Grilled fish is healthy, delicious, and able to be flavored in many ways, but many find grilling fish to be frustrating. Here’s how to do it right.
This post and recipe was written for SABER® Infrared Grills by Chef Chris Koetke of Let’s Dish.
Grilled fish is incredibly popular and for good reason – it’s healthy, can be flavored in a multitude of ways, and is simply delicious. That said, many find cooking fish on the grill to be a frustrating experience – especially those hoping for the beautiful, deep grill marks we see in restaurants. So many things can go wrong: the fish can stick to the grill, the fish can fall apart, or the fish never truly develops grill marks and ends up looking like yet one more piece of steamed fish.
Take heart! It’s possible to achieve great grilled fish, especially with the intense heat of a SABER® Infrared Grill. Restaurant-high heat like SABER delivers is just one of the keys to great results. To achieve beautifully grilled fish each time, follow the tips below:
Start by choosing a perfect piece of fish. Buy the freshest fish possible as very fresh fish has the tightest texture which helps it stay intact on the grill. Also, choose fish that has a solid versus soft texture. Lastly, fattier fish (like salmon or trout) are always better suited for the grill as they are less likely to stick and don’t dry out as easily as less fatty fish.
Grill whole fish. Grilling whole fish is a great way to cook fish as the bones preserve texture and flavor. Just be sure to choose fish that are small enough to turn easily. Note: grilling skin-on fish takes practice as the skin has a tendency to unravel from the fillet if you’re not careful.
Never try to grill defrosted fish. Thawed fish tends to be very wet which is a prime culprit behind fish sticking to the grill. Thawed fish also has a weak texture that can cause it to fall apart on the grates.
Prep the fish. Prep all fish before placing it on the grates. Fish have a tendency to stick to the grates because of their high water content and relatively low fat. While you can’t remove the water from the inside of the fish, you can blot it from the exterior. Always dry the fish well using a paper towel. Then coat the fillet with a small amount of oil just prior to grilling.
Preheat your SABER® grill until it is searing hot. The basic rule is that a cool grill equals sticking while a super hot grill prevents sticking. A hot grill will also create beautiful char marks quickly so that the fish does not overcook. For larger pieces of fish, you can always lower the heat later on in the cooking process, if necessary.
Clean the grates. This is the most overlooked step in grilling fish. If the grates are not pristinely clean, chances are that the fish will stick. Before putting the fish on the grill, scrape the grates until nothing is left on them. Then, rapidly brush a lightly dampened cotton (not nylon based!) rag over the grates to remove all the debris that was loosened by the brush. If not removed, these burned bits will stick to the fish and make it look decidedly less appetizing.
Watch the doneness. Fish fillets tend to cook quickly – and once overdone – they will dry out equally fast. Monitor the doneness closely as the fish cooks. Remove the fish when it starts to flake, but is still moist (and even medium rare for some fish) in the center.
If you’re ready for more, try different variations like marinating fish fillets in oil with herbs and garlic or sprinkling fish with a dry rub before it hits the grill. You can also try adding some wood chips to the grill to increase the flavor profile of the fish. One of our all-time favorite recipes is this Grilled Swordfish with Smoked Paprika and Herbed Fruit Salsa from Heidi Larsen of FoodieCrush.com.
The possibilities are endless, but follow the basics as outlined above and you’ll enjoy perfect grilled fish every time—the SABER® way.