How to Grill Fish, the Top Tips from the Chef

Fisch grillen

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Delicacies from the grill, successful fish grilling requires a little expertise and technique. So that the food in the garden is simply perfect, I have summarized the most important tips from professional kitchens for you here.

Enjoy reading and have a good time!

Lachsfilet auf dem Grill
First picture, first tip: Fish fillets stuck on a skewer makes turning easy. © Thomas Sixt Food Photographer

1. Fish fillets are easier to grill than whole fish

Let’s start with the simple solution: grilling fish fillets is the best method and absolutely sure to succeed. In practice the following steps have proven to be successful:

  • Buy fresh fillets
  • Frozen fish is only second choice!
  • Either grill the fillets with skin or remove the fish skin
  • Put the fillets in portions on wooden skewers – this makes turning easier
  • Season the prepared fillets only shortly before placing them on the grill
  • The fillets if, please only thinly with a brush with oil
  • Coat the fillets, if desired, first on the grill with a thin layer of marinade
  • You can also put the fillets in buttered aluminium foil, but that is not necessary!
  • You can also prepare the fillets wrapped in a banana leaf or beech wood shaving

I will show you how to remove the fish skin in an extra article. I like to remove the skin personally, because then there will be no scales on the plate. Let’s move on to the preparation of whole fish…

Frozen fish is only second choice for grilling. Freezing destroys the cell structure and the fish loses a lot of water. Fresh fish stays juicier!

Shopping tip from Chef Thomas Sixt
Fischfilets zum Grillen vorbereitet
Salmon and halibut fillets prepared on skewers.

Grill fish fillets stuck on a wooden skewer, turning is then a breeze!

Chef Thomas Sixt recommends
Heilbutt Filets beim Grillen
Even the tender halibut fillets can be prepared wonderfully.

Put the fish on the grill and let it cook, just turn it once!

Chef Thomas Sixt recommends

2. Prepare the whole fish on the grill

For the preparation of fish as a whole, the following steps have proved successful:

  • Buy fresh fish whole, frozen fish is only second choice!
  • Pay attention to freshness when buying: You can recognise fresh fish by its red gills, neutral smell and fresh appearance
  • Fish in the washbasin, filled with cold water, held under the water surface, scale with the back of a knife
  • carefully dry the fish inside and outside, fill the abdomen with garlic and herbs
  • grill the prepared fish on a stick over the grill embers
  • prepare fish on the freshly oiled grill, on a baked and oiled cast iron plate or coated grill plate
Fisch im ganzen grillen
The whole fish is not so easy to grill. You need some tools and the preparation requires some patience and tact.

Whole fish is best grilled on a stick. We know this from the folk festival and fair!

Reminds you Chef Thomas Sixt

3. Perfect grill embers, optimal result

Let us now come to the most important aspect of preparation: For best results you need a white grill embers. So the fire should have calmed down a bit before you put the fish on the grill. The fish cooks very quickly.

For your information and understanding I have included a video of the preparation of flaming salmon. With this method the salmon fillet is fixed on wooden boards and then cooked standing at a distance from the fire.

glühende, weiße kohle, der optimale moment zum grillen.
Glowing, white coals are ideal for grilling fish!

Fish cook from a temperature of 32 °C. Fire and high heat is only indirectly good. A good example is the flaming salmon. In this preparation the salmon fillets are fixed on a board and cooked at a distance from the fire.

Explains Chef Thomas Sixt
I’ll show you how to prepare the flaming salmon in this 30 second video.

4. Tips for marinades

On the subject of marinades I would like to write you some more tips:

  • Rock salt, pepper and thyme are ideal companions, add olive oil drop by drop cold only at the plate
  • Finely chop the garlic, so that it develops its aroma better
  • Use thyme oil, garlic oil and chili oil for seasoning on the plate
  • Homemade herb butter harmonizes perfectly
Rezept für Grillmarinade, so wird Fleisch für grill und Pfanne lecker mariniert.
1200I’m careful about marinating fish. I like it soft!

5. How long does it take to grill fish?

This is the most common question and unfortunately no one can seriously answer it using tables.

Every grill is different: The distance to the embers, the strength of the embers and the construction of the grill are decisive.

There’s a story to that: I had prepared sole on a fireplace grill in Ibiza and I was amazed, the sole was cooked in less than 3 minutes and I really had to hurry to get it on my plate. Here, direct heat from the grill embers and indirect heat from the heated stones on the sides had made a very fast grilling possible.

Statements about barbecue times are nonsense. Please stand by the fish barbecue carefully and watch exactly what happens.

Chef Thomas Sixt recommends
Feuerschale zum Grillen
My grill is in the cellar, I prefer to use the fire bowl and then enjoy the evening at the campfire later!

6. Frequently asked questions

Can I prepare frozen fish on the grill without defrosting?

No, it is best to thaw the fish wrapped in foil in cold water, dry it and then grill it.

Should I put fish in oil for grilling

No. It is sufficient to lightly brush the grill surface or the grid with oil. Dry the fish or fillet, season it just before putting it on the grill and prepare it without oil on the grill rack.

Should I marinate fish before grilling?

Please grill strongly marinated fish in beech wood shavings, banana leaf or aluminium foil.

Which fish is suitable for grilling?

Theoretically you can grill any fish as a whole or portioned into fillets. Popular ones are: trout, zander, catfish, sea bream, sea bass, monkfish, salmon, cod and halibut. Sole fillets and plaice fillets can be roasted indirectly on the spit in the form of rolls.

At what temperature do you grill fish?

Fish is best grilled after reaching a white glow.

If you have any further questions, I will be happy to answer them personally at the end of this article using the comment function. Just write to me, I am happy!

7. More cooking tips from the online cooking school

8. Other grill recipes

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Author: Thomas Sixt

Hi, I am a German Chef, Cookbook Author and Food Photographer. The imparting of cooking knowledge is my great passion. Everyone can cook for himself and with this website I would like to contribute to its success. Let yourself be inspired and enjoy good food. If you have any cooking questions, please use the comment function at the end of each article and recipe. I wish Thomas Sixt Good Luck!