Firing up the grill in the summertime is a great way to bring new flavors to your favorite foods. Cooking on charcoal or an open gas flame can transform your proteins and vegetables, and create tastes and textures you simply cannot achieve on the stovetop or in the oven. Despite this magic, many people still shy away from barbecuing seafood.
Some simply dismiss the idea, thinking that grilling fish is much trickier than grilling meat and requires you to buy of a plethora of extra grilling gadgets. But the truth is, the process of grilling seafood isn’t cumbersome at all. While seafood is typically more delicate than meat, the texture difference means that grilling fish is often a faster process. With a few simple pointers, you’ll be expertly barbecuing seafood in no time, so now’s the time to nail the basics.
Consider the Type of Fish You’re Grilling
Like with different types and cuts of meats, different types of fish require different grilling times, heat levels and methods. Just as you likely did when grilling meat for the first time, select a specific fish grilling recipe and follow along with the exact directions per your type of seafood.
For example, Tilapia fillets are typically best grilled in foil, on a wooden plank or in a grilling basket. Whichever method you choose though, each of these styles will minimize the risk of your fish breaking apart while cooking as they will help hold the fillets together. Grilling seafood on skewers or directing over an open flame is usually recommended for fish with an oilier or firmer raw texture.
Oil the Grill
Before barbecuing seafood, it is crucial for the grill to be well oiled. Seafood skin is more delicate than meat skin, which makes it stick to the grill more easily. Before your fish touches the grill, make sure you’ll be able to remove it without losing half your fish in the process. Wipe the grill rack with an oiled paper towel, using tongs to grasp the towel. Oils that work best for the grill rack are those with a high smoke point, like sunflower oil, canola oil and corn oil.
Know That Timing is Everything
Most fish cook faster than meat, so be sure to closely follow recipe instructions regarding grilling times. If you’re not following a recipe, gauge the timing by selecting one piece of fish as your go-to tester, ensuring that the inside of the largest part of the fillet is opaque and fully cooked before pulling everything off the grill.
In the same vein, it’s important not to flip fish too hastily once you’ve begun grilling. When flipping fillets too early, the skin is much more likely to stick to the grill rack since it hasn’t had enough time to fully cook into the protein. Follow our timing recommendations for cooking each side of your fillet or whole fish to ensure you don’t flip too early—resulting in unevenly cooked fish—or too late, which is how you risk burning your fillet.
All seafood can be grilled with relative ease, and the flavor to be reaped from barbecuing fish is undeniable. So the next time you rally your friends and family for a backyard barbecue, be sure to add some fresh seafood to the menu. With its high protein content and flakey texture, it will be the ultimate addition to your grilling repertoire this summer season.
Get ready for grilling season with these 5 Tasty BBQ Fish Recipes.
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