How to Grill Fish, the Top Tips from the Chef
Thomas Sixt is a chef, food photographer and cookbook author.
Here he shares recipes, answers cooking questions and helps with cooking.
Grilling fish requires a little knowledge and technique to prepare it successfully. I have summarised the most important tricks and tips here to ensure that your garden meal is a perfect success. Enjoy reading and good luck!
1. Grilling fish is easier with fillets!
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
Grill fish fillets stuck on a wooden skewer, turning is then a breeze!Chef Thomas Sixt recommends
Put the fish on the grill and let it cook, just turn it once!Chef Thomas Sixt recommends
2. Grill fish whole successfully
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
Whole fish is best grilled on a stick. We know this from the folk festival and fair!Reminds you Chef Thomas Sixt
3. Perfect barbecue embers for grilling fish
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.
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
4. Marinades for grilling fish
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
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
6. Frequently asked questions
I have summarised the most frequently asked questions about grilling fish in the cooking questions section.