any questions for Diane Morgan, author of Grill Every Day and a true expert on grilling. The first question we chose among your suggestions was perhaps the most representative: it seemed like half of you asked how to grill fish! How do you grill fish without it sticking, breaking, tearing, or falling to pieces? Read on for Diane's very helpful answers. What is the best way to grill fish and to keep it from sticking to the grill? Mastering seafood on the grill can be a challenge, and even the most experienced grill cooks don’t always succeed.
- First, choose fish and shellfish that work well on the grill. For example, salmon, swordfish, tuna, halibut, shrimp, and scallops. Salmon has a high oil content (and lots of good omega-3 fatty acids), which helps keep it moist on the grill. Tuna and swordfish have a dense, meaty texture that prevents them from breaking apart. Halibut and scallops are trickier, but with the right technique, they also do well on a grill. Shrimp are a cinch whether they are in their protective shell or not.
All fish fillets should be at least an inch thick, so they don’t fall through the grill grate. Similarly, grill sea scallops, not bay scallops, and medium- to large-sized shrimp, rather than small ones, so the pieces are too big to fall through the grill grate.
- Second, match your seafood with the right grill method. I use planks, cedar sheets, skewers, and even a bed of fresh herbs to help keep fish from sticking to the grate.
- Third, start with a clean, hot, well-oiled grill surface. Even small bits of charred food left on the grill grate will stick to a raw fish fillet and tear the flesh when you try to move it. Have the grill preheated, brush the grate so it’s clean, clean, clean, and oil the grate thoroughly so it’s well coated and slick.
- Fourth, even if the fish has been seasoned with an oil-based marinade, paste, or rub, brush it or spray it on all sides with oil before putting it on the grill. This step is critical to successful fish grilling. Don’t be afraid to give the fillets a good coating. It won’t make the fish oily, and it will prevent it from sticking.
- Finally, use a wide spatula or a fish spatula to turn fillets, and use tongs to turn skewers. Fish fillets need to be supported when they are turned, so having the correct tool is important. - Diane Morgan, author of Grill Every Day