The recipe and photography for this post was provided Heinen’s partner, Chef Billy Parisi.
Learn a few fool proof ways to grill up fresh seafood to help maximize flavor for your next meal with family and friends.
Preparing seafood can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before or rarely cook it. It can be especially difficult when grilling because of the nature of fish wanting to always stick to the grill. It’s actually quite a bit easier than you may have thought, and with these easy ways to cook fish on the grill, you’ll be a pro in no time.
Tips to Get You Started
- No matter if the fish you are working with is grilled or cooked in a pan, its first instinct is to stick to that surface. The first think you can do to help push back on fish sticking is making sure to pat the fish dry on both sides with a paper towel. Anything that is wet is going to want to stick to a hot surface so anything you can do to help cut back on the moisture will absolutely help.
- The second thing to remember is to let fish cook. I know, it’s hard to stay patient when you’re constantly worrying that you’re burning one side of the fish. Let the fish naturally start to pull away from the grill grates or pan before being so eager to flip it after 2 minutes. You may cook the fish for 6 to 7 minutes on 1 side and only 2 to 3 minutes on the other side after flipping, and it will still be done throughout.
- Lastly before we get into cooking on different surfaces on the grill, you have to remember to use some sort of oil or butter on the fish before cooking. Oil, or butter, will help lubricate the fish and help it release from whatever it is you’re cooking on. No need to drown the fish in oil, but a few teaspoons can go a long way.
Different Ways to Cook Your Fish
The easiest way to cook on the grill is by using a grill pan. Grill pans are cast iron and have built in grates and will help you achieve grill marks as well as it being cooked over the open flame to ensure some of those smoky flavors are incorporated into your seafood. Start by heating the pan up with the grill to high heat, I recommend 550° and letting it sit for about 10 minutes.
Make sure your fish is patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper. You then want to add some oil to the grill pan and then simply add in your fish. Remember to let the fish gently pull away from the pan instead of trying to scrape it off. This procedure will work for any piece of fish, although I recommend using a steakier fish like swordfish, tuna or salmon. Remember that when you are cooking in the grill pan and you close the grill door the heat will be intense in there and will cook fairly quickly.
One of the coolest ways to cook anything is on a salt block. A salt block is a large chunk of salt that you can either heat up in the oven or place directly on a grill and preheat it up to 550°. The goal is to make sure your salt block is very hot to prevent what it is your cooking from sticking. There is no need to season your food before cooking on a salt block because it absorbs a ton of delicious salt right off the block. This is why it makes for something ideal to cook on.
Once your salt block hot, it will start to lighten in color. For this salt block it was much redder and as it got hot it turned to more of a pink color. You next want to drizzle some oil right onto the salt block and then simply add your fish to it. You want to close the grill door so that it will cook on all sides evenly. After 6 to 8 minutes, simply flip the fish over and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. I used grouper to cook on the salt block and it seasoned it to perfection. You can use similar fish such as sea bass, mahi mahi or halibut.
The last and most practical way to cook fish on the grill is by using a basket. This is a fool proof way to ensure your fish will definitely not stick to the grill, as it is not touching it directly. With that being said it is incredibly important to still pay the fish dry and brush it with oil because it can absolutely stick to the basket that it is in. Using a basket will allow you to cook skin on fish and crisp it up to perfection without worrying about it sticking. The only other way to cook fish skin on is in a hot sauté pan, so this gives you another option while being able to incorporate some smoky flavors.
You can also infuse flavors onto the fish since it is all held in the basket. For example, you can add some lemon slices, fresh herbs, or other ingredients and they will help flavor the fish while being in the basket. I prefer to do whole skin on fish or any skin on fillet such as the walleye I used in the images.
Have fun and get creative cooking seafood out on the grill and remember that you are only limited by your own creativity, and with these easy ways to cook fish on the grill, you can now do it with confidence.