There are a lot of fish that are great for grilling, and we’ll help you find the best fish for grilling for you. Two aspects of grilling fish are important: the quality of the fish (so it does not fall apart) and cooking it on very high heat. The fish texture should be firm with integrity, and breaded fish also make for a great introduction to cooking fish, although they are normally baked in an oven on a flat pan.
The best fish for grilling are typically thick and fresh: the top tier is usually swordfish, shark, and tuna. Mahi-mahi, salmon, monkfish and tilefish are also wonderful starters. This range of fish is great for staying intact during grilling, they are firm and withstand high heat. They may also be smoked or charred for extra flavor.
More experienced cooks might be better suited to grilling thin, filleted fish for the first time. Flounder, cod, and halibut tend to be harder to master grilling, as they are soft and fall apart and require careful handling.
Before grilling your fish, be sure to gut and clean it, unless you intend to grill the whole fish. Add herbs and seasonings such as basil, rosemary, sea salt, sage, and thyme. Black pepper is also wonderful for bringing out the flavor of smoked fish.
What Kind of Fish Can I Grill
A few spice/herb suggestions for specific fish varieties:
Swordfish: light brown sugar, garlic powder, mint, ginger, and cayenne pepper.
Mahi-Mahi: onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, oregano leaves, salt, fresh ground pepper.
Shark: Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, onion powder, thyme, chili powder.
Flounder: lemon zest, garlic, ginger root, cumin, parsley and cayenne pepper.
Halibut: paprika, oregano, thyme, salt, black pepper.
Salmon: ground cloves, nutmeg, coriander, salt and black pepper. Peanut oil, grape seed oil or clarified butter are also great additions.
Most grilling times for fish require no less than 5-6 minutes per side. It’s important to pay careful attention as the integrity of fish is fragile and light, and easily burnt. Watch for too much smoke and be careful not to burn one side. Conversely, don’t flip it too many times or before it is done, as it won’t be cooked evenly throughout the fish.
Depending on the size of the fish, it may be cooked within 5 minutes or up to an hour. Larger fish should be cooked over less-intense heat so the interior is fully cooked.
The best placement for fish on the grill is directly on the grill racks or inside a basket. There are also small metal containers traditionally used for hamburgers that can be useful for housing smaller fish on the grill. This also makes flipping it less messy and much easier for a beginner.
While many fish recipes seem intimidating at first, they don’t have to be. Grilled fish can be placed over rice, served with potatoes, or made into fish tacos or fried fish sandwiches.
- Mahi-Mahi with Ginger Honey Glaze:
- (Serves 4)
- 1 TBSP butter at room temperature(unsalted)
- 4 6OZ mahi-mahi fillets, thawed or fresh
- 2 tsp sunflower oil
- 1 clove
- 1 TSP fresh ginger root (grated or chopped)
- 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 2 TBSP honey (bee or flower)
- salt and pepper
- In a small bowl, combine the honey, vinegar, ginger, sunflower oil, and garlic. Swirl with a spoon to incorporate all of the ingredients.
- Season the fillets with salt and pepper.
- Add the fillets to the bowl and coat each side liberally.
- Cover with plastic wrap or tinfoil and cool in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
- Add butter to a large skillet set at low-medium heat.
- Place the fillets in the skillet.
- Pan-fry until golden brown, for about 5 minutes on each side.
- Serve. The leftover marinade may be used as an additional sauce on the side or drizzled over the cooked fish.
Grains: coconut rice and mango salsa, red potatoes with garlic and oregano, french fries, grain salad.
Vegetables: cucumber, chickpeas, quinoa, corn, couscous, broccoli or asparagus, brussel sprouts, cole slaw.
Sauces: tartar sauce, mint sauce, lemon cream, red wine, fresh herb, parsley sauce with lemon.
Wine Pairings: Mahi-mahi is best served with a white wine, such as a Chardonnay, White Rioja, or Pinot Grigio.
photo credit: Flickr/Ralph Daily