When I posted a picture of some incredible fresh mackerel last week, I had lots of people tell me that they wouldn’t grill fish on a BBQ as they were ‘scared of doing it’. Don’t be.
Want to know how to cook amazing fish on the BBQ?
The same rules apply when cooking fish on a BBQ as it does when cooking fish in the kitchen.
Make sure it’s fresh!
If you are lucky enough to live by the sea and can potter down to the quayside at first light (as I used to do when living in France years ago) then you can’t get fresher than that. But when like me, you live just about as far inland in the UK as it is possible to be then you need to look elsewhere.
Make friends with a fishmonger
A reputable local fishmonger is worth his or her weight in gold if you want to be able to cook amazing fish on the BBQ. They can advise you on cooking times and even help with recipe suggestions. Sadly, there aren’t many about in the UK these days and for many, a supermarket fish counter is going to be your best option. Fresh fish should have a bright and shiny appearance and be ‘bouncy’ when touched. A fresh fish will always smell of the sea and not at all fishy. Fish eyes from fresh fish will be clear and not cloudy.
Don’t overheat the grill
If your BBQ or grill is searing hot then the skin will burn before the fish inside is properly cooked. Get your grill to a medium heat (simple on a gas BBQ or one with the ability to cook on gas or charcoal like my gorgeous new Space Grill!
On a charcoal BBQ I cook my fish around the outer edges of the grill. On my gas BBQ I use the non-stick griddle plate which sears the fish beautifully without leaving half of it behind on the grill rack.
Cook Skin Side Down
Fillets of fish are best grilled by placing the fish skin side down first. They will only need a couple of minutes on either side. Every cookery programme you watch will extole the virtues of ‘crispy skin’. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say I hate it! Each to their own….
How to Check if the Fish is Cooked
Push the flesh of the fish with your fingers. If it separates into flakes and is piping hot then you’re pretty much good to go. You should also check that the fish has taken on the same colour throughout. To my mind there is nothing worse than ‘glassy fish’ when the flakes still look wet and shiny.
Cooking in paper
Try cooking your fish wrapped in wet newspaper. This leaves the fish wonderfully moist and soft in texture and also gives it a fantastic slightly smoked flavour from the charred paper. Simply wrap the fish in the paper, tie with string and run under the tap until the paper is soaked through before popping it on the grill.
Herbs, herbs, herbs
My favourite way to grill fish is to take whole fish (removing the head and tail if you don’t like the look of it) and pack the cavity with fresh herbs, lemon and slices of onion. Then either place it on the grill as it is or wrap it in foil with a little olive oil and a drop of white wine. Heaven.
Serve with a simple side of new potatoes and salad. Summer food doesn’t get much better than this