How to grill fish - Instructions on how to cook oily and white fish.

grilling fish
Grilling is another popular method for cooking fish. It is quick and easy and does not involve using lots of pots, pans or other types of kitchen equipment.

As with baking, certain varieties of fish are more suited to grilling than others, depending on fat content and the size of the fish.

As grilling involves cooking food directly under a dry heat source, it is therefore apt for oilier types of fish such as salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, halibut or swordfish. Larger fish such as salmon, tuna, swordfish or cod are better grilled when cut into steaks or fillets, whereas smaller fish like trout can be grilled whole.

Grilled fish recipes

When cooking a whole fish, ensure that you score the fish, cutting several diagonal cuts into each side. This will cook the fish quicker and ensure the heat spreads evenly.

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When cooking a whole fish, ensure that you score the fish, cutting several diagonal cuts into each side. This will cook the fish quicker and ensure the heat spreads evenly.

Fish should ideally be defrosted before cooking. This can be done in the refrigerator, placing the fish inside a plastic bag or other type of wrapping, so that the water and fish juices do not spill onto other foods in the fridge and contaminate them. It is usually enough to defrost the fish overnight and then cook the fish the following day or as soon as possible.

When grilling oily fish, sometimes it is a good idea to marinate them for 1 - 2 hours before cooking. With oily fish it is not necessary to baste during cooking, as these types of fish cook in their own fat.

Leaner types of fish can be grilled, but need basting several times during cooking or they should be grilled in a small amount of liquid, such as wine or stock, to keep them moist and prevent them from drying out.

Fish can also be grilled over charcoal in a barbeque, although to prevent overpowering, use a strong flavoured fish.

It is essential that the grill is always preheated for about ten minutes before placing the fish under it. Fish cooks very quickly and loses flavour and quality if left for a long time under the grill.

To save on washing up, use aluminium foil to line the grill pan or to place on top of the rack. Foil will speed up the cooking process also, as the heat will reflect from the surface. Always line the pan with foil before preheating the grill and place the rack under the grill whilst preheating.

If you chose not to use foil, once the grill has preheated, remove the pan and lightly brush it with oil.

Remember that thin fillets of white fish will probably only need to be cooked on one side, whilst thicker steaks and cutlets must be turned over during cooking.

Cooking time for fish varies according to the thickness and size of the fish.

Thin fillets of white fish will only need around 5 minutes cooking time and thicker steaks or cutlets require 4 - 7 minutes cooking on each side.

To grill oily fish (tuna, salmon, swordfish)

  1. If using foil, line the grill pan with the foil and return the pan to the grill.
  2. Preheat the grill on a moderate heat leaving the pan in place.
  3. In the meantime, rinse the fish fillets, steaks, cutlets or small whole fish and dry with kitchen paper.
  4. Once the grill is hot, brush the pan or foil with a little oil.
  5. Place the fish into the pan in one layer with the skin side down.
  6. Brush the fish with melted butter, oil and lemon juice.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Place the rack under the grill as near to the top as possible.
  9. Grill, basting according to recipe specifications until the fish is cooked (will flake when cut with fork).

To grill leaner fish (plaice, hake)

Leaner fish include cod, plaice, hake and bass.
  1. Rinse fish fillets, steaks or whole fish under cold running water and dry with kitchen towels.
  2. Preheat the grill.
  3. Grease an ovenproof dish with butter and lay the fish in the dish, skin side down.
  4. Pour in a small amount of liquid (wine, milk, stock, sauce) so that the bottom of the dish is covered.
  5. Brush the fish with melted butter or oil, season and sprinkle with lemon juice or follow the recipe instructions that you have chosen.
  6. Place into the preheated grill and cook until the fish is done. You will need to baste the fish a number of times, but it won't be necessary to turn the fish over if cooking thin fillets.
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