How to Grill Fish Filets

When I first got into grilling I always used a charcoal grill and the last thing in the world that I would choose to cook would be fish filets. I guess one reason quite simply was that fish wasn\’t really my favorite but more significantly it always seemed like a waste of charcoal. In other words why spend 45 minutes preparing a fire to grill fish filets for about 10 minutes and find most of the fish landing in the charcoal as it breaks up!

“Wrap it in foil” I hear you say! And to some extent I agree with you. Take a piece of salmon, place it on some foil and season it. To keep it simple just lay a slice of lemon on the skin with a nob of butter, seal up the parcel and grill for about 10 of 15 minutes. Open it up and you have a lovely piece of succulent salmon cooked in its own lemon butter sauce. But still there\’s something missing, especially with a charcoal grill, and that\’s the sizzle and a bit of smoke. You see, that salmon parcel could have been cooked just as well in the oven.

Don\’t underestimate the amount of flavor you can put into fish with a little bit of smoke. Take some fruit wood chips (apple or lemon are my favorites) and soak them in water for 30 minutes until they\’ve clearly absorbed some of the moisture. When you are ready to cook and your grill is up to temperature, wrap the wood chips in foil, make some puncture holes in the foil and throw the parcel onto the coals. The most wonderful aromas will start to permeate the atmosphere once the wood start to char.

By definition if you\’re going to get flavor into your fish from smoke then there\’s not point wrapping it in foil, but if you don\’t wrap it in foil then it\’s going to break up right?…….Wrong! There\’s a number of techniques and tools that you can use to keep your fish in one piece……

Firstly, fish just need simple cooking and you can tell when it\’s cooked because the color changes from one which is translucent to one that is much more firm. You can tell when fish is cooked just by looking at it carefully and certainly there\’s no need to keep flipping it. Grill your filet on one side and then finish on the other and leave it at that, excessive turning will for sure cause your fish to break up.

Use a Teflon mat. Arguably you can just coat your grill plates with olive oil but I find that a Teflon mat (also coated with olive oil) really stops the fish from sticking. The Teflon mat\’s other advantage is that it\’s woven loosely so there\’s plenty of holes to let the smoke through but most importantly there\’s a good amount of surface to spread the weight of the fish filet over giving the filet nice support throughout the cooking.

Lastly, cook your filet with the skin on. I had a discussion with a colleague whether to cook skin side down first or skin side up and my preference is skin side down for two reasons.

1. Should your fire be a little vicious, the skin will burn / crisp but the fish will be protected.
2. You can watch the fish change color and so see when it\’s starting to cook through.
3. The best way to tell when fish is done is to pull back the skin. If you do skin side up second then the skin is accessible to do this test.

So cooking fish filets without foil is possible and to my mind it\’s also preferable. In addition to the flavor that you can get from adding wood chips to your fire, try also wrapping your fish in a cured meat like streaky bacon or chorizo, I can assure you that you won\’t be disappointed in the results.

Author Bio: Paul Yates writes barbecue fish recipes including a delicious grilled fish recipe for any white fish filet and also bacon wrapped fish tails.

Category: Cooking
Keywords: fish filets,grill fish,grill fish filets,charcoal grill,wood chips,skin side down,crispy fish skin,

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