Monday, August 29, 2011

Grilling Fish 101

When I was a kid, the grill was a place for hamburgers and hotdogs. I can still remember the first time I saw my neighbor, Mr. Munier, barbecuing chicken. He covered the chicken with a store bought BBQ sauce, placed foil over the hot coals and then tossed the chicken on the foil. It was a constant firefight. The smell was great but the end product was both burned and under cooked, with pieces of the burnt aluminum foil stuck to the chicken. I never understood the use of foil on the grill. As I grew older I was always looking for new grilling tricks. Once on vacation in Washington, I saw family friend grilling salmon. He got the grill hot and then made a little pouch out of foil. He lathered the salmon with Mayonnaise and sour cream placed it in the pouch and the closed it tightly. The fish was very good but even at that young age I knew this simply was not grilling. I’ve seen variations of this trick including butter wine and herbs, or Italian dressing and even salsa. Although it cooks on a grill, this is a way to steam the fish or if the pouch is open it’s grill baking. Either way you’re missing a real treat… grilled fish. Grilling fish is easy if you know a few basics, and I do… so I thought I’d walk you through them.

First, clean the grill very well. Then you want the grill medium hot. I like fillets better that fish steaks when it comes to grilling. Start out with a firm fish like salmon then as your technique improves try more delicate fish. Also, in the beginning try fish with the skin still on. Start with a fillet that is about one inch thick. The rule of thumb for grilling fish is ten minutes of grilling for every inch of thickness. Spray both sides of the fish with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Place the flesh side (non- skin side) of the salmon down and immediately drag it back and forth the same direction as the grill surface runs on your hot grill, for about ten seconds. This keeps the fish from sticking. Grill the fish for two minutes and then using a thin metal spatula cut the fish lose from the grill and turn it over so the skin side is down. Drag it back and forth for ten more seconds, and grill for eight more minutes. Cut the fillet loose from the grill and carefully place it on a serving plate and serve immediately. Don’t worry if you lose the skin the on the grill, in the beginning that happens. I look at the skin as a safety, to keep the fish from sticking. As time goes by and you get a feel for this you won’t care if the fillet has skin. Depending on your grill and how you like your fish done, you may want to increase, or decrease the cooking time. However always start with two minutes on the first side, then adjust as needed on the second side. What you want, is to learn the nature, of fish on your grill. It will be a little different on every grill. In closing I wanted to give you a recipe for the juiciest salmon I’ve every eaten and the recipe is so easy. Have fun and E-mail me if you have any grilling questions.

Pacific Rim Grilling Sauce for Salmon

1/4 cup Hoisin sauce

1 Tbl. Dark sesame oil

Mix together. Brush some of the sauce on the flesh side and then place the fillet on a hot grill flesh side down for about 2 minutes. Brush the skin side with the sauce. Carefully flip it. Then coat with the sauce again and grill it for 8 more minutes, lid down. It will come off the grill in one piece.

Makes enough for 4 – 8oz. salmon fillets

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