Monday, September 17, 2007

Grilled Fish

Most people are usually not willing to try to grill fish. Burgers, steaks, and chicken are the extent of their repertoire. That's a shame, because grilled fish can be the best method of delivering tasty delights to your plate. Here's a list of tips for grilling the most daunting pieces of fish:

1) Clean your grates. Really, really, clean them. Make them spotless. Clean grates don't stick.

2) Wipe your grates down with oil, preferably pure olive oil, but anything with a high smoke point. Do this before you apply the heat.

3) Spray your fish on both sides with a non-stick spray.

4) Make sure the grates are at temperature before you put the fish on. You're looking for a quick sear. Putting fish onto grates that are still heating up is an invitation for sticking.

5) Flip the fish exactly once. Multiple flips are an invitation for breakage.

6) Use a wide spatula that can support the entire piece of fish as you flip it.

7) Cut the fish into pieces that are a uniform thickness. A single piece of fish with widely different thicknesses, such as a standard fillet, will be overdone on one end at the least.

8) Marinate your fish in a sauce for a few hours or overnight to remove the "fishy" taste of lesser cuts.

9) Cook the fish at high heat. Fish is a quick hit -- low and slow produces fish jerky.

10) Remove your fish from the grill when it's about 80% done. Carry over will finish it as you plate it.

11) Drizzle a little sauce over the fish with about a minute left on the grill before you plate it. It heats up the sauce and allows it to caramelize. Or just use melted butter and lemon, but keep in mind that the butter will burn quite easily so hold off until the end.

If you're still terrified, try using a fish basket. Just follow the same steps, but flip the entire basket instead of the individual pieces of fish.

If you want to wrap fish with foil, why use a grill? The foil effectively keeps out the grilled taste, so ban it from your grill. Same thing with stuffing whole fish -- the skin/scales effectively insulates the fish from the flavor, so you might as well do it in the broiler.

If you're worried about under cooking fish, remember that 127 million Japanese eat raw fish all the time. Roll it in rice and you've got sushi! Underdone fish is far preferable to overcooked, dried out fish. You can always put a plate of underdone fish in the microwave for 15 seconds if the carryover effect doesn't quite work out the way you planned.

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