Grilling Whole Fish: Tips for Perfection

Fresh seafood is a delicious and healthy treat. Grilling whole fish is a fantastic way to prepare it, locking in flavour and creating a crispy skin.

While it may seem fancy, grilling whole fish from Manettas is surprisingly simple. With a few key tips, you can achieve restaurant-quality results at home.

Choosing the Right Fish

Not all fish are created equal for grilling. Here are some ideal options:

  • Flat fish – Flounder and sole are great choices. Their flat shape cooks evenly on the grill.
  • Round fish– Snapper and whiting are excellent options. Ask your fishmonger to clean and scale them for you.
  • Fatty fish – Salmon, mackerel and ocean trout are all extra delicious when grilled. Their high fat content helps keep them moist.

Prepping Your Fish

Once you have your fish, prep it for grilling success. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Rinse and dry – Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Moisture on the skin will prevent a good sear.
  2. Add seasoning– Salt and pepper are a classic combo. Rub the cavity and exterior with olive oil for extra flavour.
  3. Add stuffing (optional) – Stuff the cavity with lemon slices, fresh herbs or thinly sliced onion for added flavour.

Getting Your Grill Ready

Prepping your grill is essential for even cooking. Follow these:

  1. Heat it up – Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Aim for around 200°C.
  2. Clean the grates– Brush the grates with a grill brush to remove any leftover food particles.
  3. Oil the grates – Dip a paper towel in oil and lightly coat the hot grates to prevent sticking.

Grilling Your Fish

Now for the fun part—cooking the fish!

  1. Gently lay – Carefully place the fish on the preheated grill. Avoid moving it until it sears.
  2. Resist the urge to flip – Patience is key! Let the fish cook undisturbed for a few minutes to sear the skin.
  3. Check for doneness – Use a wide spatula to gently peek under the skin. If it releases easily, it’s ready to flip.
  4. Flip with care– Use a large spatula and a grill fork to carefully flip the fish. Cook the other side for a few minutes, until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

Cooking Times

Cooking times will vary depending on the size and thickness of your fish. A good rule of thumb is to cook for 8-10 minutes per side for a medium-sized fish.

The Internal Temperature Test

For the most accurate way to tell if your fish is cooked through, use an instant-read thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the fish (not touching the bone). The internal temperature should reach 63°C for safety.

Rest is Essential

Once the fish is cooked through, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more moist and flavourful fish.

Serving Suggestions

Grilled whole fish pairs beautifully with a variety of sides, such as:

  • Lemon wedges – A squeeze of fresh lemon juice brightens up the flavour.
  • Herb sauce– A simple chimichurri or salsa verde adds a fresh touch.
  • Roasted vegetables – Roasted asparagus, capsicum or zucchini are a healthy and delicious accompaniment.
  • Couscous or rice – A bed of fluffy couscous or rice provides a nice base for the fish.

Beyond the Basics

Now that you’ve mastered the basics, here are some ideas to further elevate your grilled fish game:

  • Cedar plank grilling – Soak cedar planks in water for 30 minutes before grilling. The planks add a smoky flavour to the fish.
  • Spicy rubs – Experiment with different spice rubs for a kick of flavour.
  • Glazes – Brush the fish with a glaze during the last few minutes of cooking for a sweet and sticky finish.

With a little practice, you’ll be grilling perfect whole fish like a pro. Fire up your grill, grab some fresh seafood and get ready to enjoy a delicious and healthy meal!

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