How To Grill Fish

This guide will show you how to grill fish and avoid the common mistakes most people make. 

Grilling fish can be challenging. I remember trying it and having a nice fillet stick to the grill refuse to come off and go from a fillet to what looked like ground fish.

But those were the old days. With a few simple tips, I learned how to grill fish without the meat sticking to the grates. I also learned how to not overcook the fish.

Once you get the hang of it, you too will be able to grill fish fillets with the best of them.

How To Prepare A Grill For Grilling Fish

Preparing your grill properly before you try to grill fish is one of the most important things you can do.

Ignore this step and you’ll probably end up with a sticky mess on your grill.

First, make sure you’re starting off with a clean grill. You don’t want carbon deposits caked on your grates. This can stick to the fish and affect the flavor.

Once the grill is nice and clean, you’ll need to get the grill hot.

Heat the grill up to about 400 degrees. 

Then, the important part comes. 

You’ll need to thoroughly oil the grates. When you do this to a cast iron skillet, it’s called seasoning. But this has nothing to do with spices.

Seasoning the grates means getting the oil to penetrate them. This helps keep the grates slick throughout the cooking process.

If you only coat the outside of the grates with oil, it will quickly burn away.

Once this surface oil is gone, your fish fillet will stick to the grill.

So, you want to get the oil into the grates.

When the grates are fully heated, it allows the oil to really get in there. 

The process to oil your grates is simple. 

You can use paper towels or a hand towel. You will also need a pair of tongs to hold the towels.

The type of oil you use is also important. You’ll want a high temperature oil like peanut oil or canola oil.

Olive oil will burn and smoke at these temps. So, you may want to avoid it.

Once you’re ready to start here are the steps:

1. Heat clean grates up to about 400 degrees.

2. Oil a paper towel or dish towel.

3.  Wipe the hot grill grates with oil.

4. Take care not to burn the towels.

5. Repeat until the great has a shiny black coating that doesn’t disappear.

Once you’re done with this, your grill is ready to cook.

How To Prepare Fish For Grilling

Let’s say you’ve gotten some nice snapper fillets at the fish market and you want to grill them.  Before you go ahead, you’ll want to make sure you season the fish and not just the grill.

Adding a little bit of oil on the fillet is also a good idea.

I like to mildly season the fish I’m grilling. I’ll add some salt and black pepper and that’s about it.

But I’ve also mixed it up by adding some garlic powder, onion powder and paprika.

As for how much to use here is a breakdown of how much spice I would use for half a pound (8 ounces) of fillets:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Of course you can vary these quantities to your taste. If you like heat, you can also add some cayenne pepper.

Grilling A Fish Fillet

If you’re leaving the skin on your fish here is a suggestion.

I have had success by starting with the skin up. I do about 30 seconds to 1 minutes then rotate the fish 90 degrees.

After another 30 seconds to a minute, I flip it over with the skin down for the remainder of the cook.

Here is the quick step by step process:

1. Place the seasoned fish on the grill skin side up.

2. Rotate the fish 90 degrees after about 1 minute. Depending on thickness. For a thicker than 1 inch fillet, you can go for 2 minutes.

3.  After another minute, flip the fish over so that it’s skin side down.

4. Finish cooking the fish until the internal temperature hits 145 degrees F. 

Once you’re done, if the fillets are thin, you should be able to serve them right away.

Serving Grilled Fish

Once your fish is cooked, to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, you can serve it right away.

Some meats like steaks should be rested after they’ve reached cooked through temperature. However, with fish you don’t need to do this.

Grilled fish is great with healthy sides like rice or salad. 

If you’re looking for a heartier meal, you can also opt for french fries and put your fillet on a bun for a nice grilled fish sandwich.

Either way, grilled fish is not that hard to make and it’s delicious.

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