I think I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was never much of a “fish” person until I met my wife, who’s from Canada. In British Columbia, fresh fish is as common as fresh beef is here in Texas. In the years we’ve been together, I’ve gotten HOOKED (yeah, pun intended) on salmon, halibut, mahi mahi……yum, yum. yumyumYUM!! They’ve got a gold mine up there in wild Coho and Sockeye salmon! Amazing fish.
Prior to her, my idea of fish was fried catfish. I still can put away a good platter of fried catfish, but I’ve grown to love grilled fish as well. You just can’t hardly beat a nice fillet of red fish (or just drum), amberjack, grouper, tuna, WHATEVER over a hot bed of mesquite coals. Special care, though, needs to be made to protect from two things: 1) flare ups, and 2) overcooking your fish.
Fish, by nature, are oily creatures. This natural oil is like kerosene to a fire – it doesn’t take much before you’ll walk out and your grill is ABLAZE and your fillets look like charred strips of shoe leather. So, always keep a good eye out on your grill – heck just stay outside with a good, cold glass of Pinot Gris or something equally tasty. You can keep flare ups in check by keeping a little spray bottle of water to spritz the coals once in a while. Fish cooks really fast, so there’s no worry about losing your fire by shootin’ a little water on it to keep it civil. Grilling fish shouldn’t take much longer than 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet.
Now, just as important about flare ups, is the seasoning of your fish. Sure, mesquite smoke by itself adds a lot of flavor. And fresh fish from the sea has a good measure of salt already in it, but you should always season your fish just to bump it up that much more in the levels of “awesome” flavor. Check out “Grillin’ the Plank” for a great fish seasoning recipe. Below is a really good “marinade” for fish.
Grilled Fish Marinade
Using a 2-cup glass measuring cup place these ingredients in this order (only way I know how to do it):
Juice from 1 lime
1 heaping teaspoon of minced garlic (approx 2 cloves)
1 tsp minced ginger
fill to 1/2 cup mark with vegetable oil
fill to 3/4 cup mark with soy sauce (use the “lite” variety to cut down on the salt)
fill to 7/8 cup mark with rice (or white) wine
couple of splashes of liquid smoke
1 Tbsp of your favorite Cajun seasoning (Old Bay, Emeril’s, etc)
1 bay leave, broken into thirds
Stir all ingredients real well and pour over 1 lb fish fillets in a flat glass baking dish – making sure to get marinade under the fish as well (you can flip the fish halfway through the marinating time).
Let marinate for no more than 1 hour.
Discard marinade when you grill the fish. **Make sure you round up those bay leaf pieces off the fish, too!
Whether you’re using charcoal or gas, you’re looking for a medium-high heat. AND, unless your grill has some pretty narrow slots, you may want to get one of those aluminum sheets with the holes in them (like the one pictured above) for grilling your fish. Fish can fall apart fairly easily and pieces will go EVERYwhere other than on the platter!
[HANDY TIP] If your fillets have skin on one side, start your grilling with the skin side UP. You only flip your fish once and, this way, when you flip it, the skin will then be on the bottom side making a nice “tray” for when it’s time to take it off the grill.
Now, if you REALLY want to take this to the next level, try this fresh “salsa” on your fish!
Sweet Corn/Pineapple Salsa for Grilled Fish
1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 can pineapple chunks (packed in its juice), drained
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, washed and de-stemmed
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 large avocado, diced
juice from one lime
salt & pepper to taste
Place first four ingredients (and jalapeno, if you want) in a large bowl and gently mix together to blend. When you’re ready to serve, add the avocado, lime juice and salt & pepper and fold those into the corn/pineapple mix. Serve over the grilled fish or on the side.