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Grilling Fish

Grilling Fish
Grilling is one of the simplest and best ways to cook fish. A few guidelines will guarantee the best results.

Outdoor Grilling
When cooking fish over direct heat, the fire should be hot so that the fish will be well seared. Indirect grilling is a slower and gentler way to grill, so use this method when cooking whole large or small fish and very thick fillets or steaks.

Bring any fish to room temperature before grilling. Cook large and small whole fish, like sardines, in hinged grill baskets of the appropriate size, so that you can turn the fish without their falling apart. Baskets are also handy for delicate fish fillets as well as shellfish, which otherwise might fall through the rack into the fire. To help prevent sticking, brush the inside surfaces of the basket with oil.

If possible, use real charcoal rather than briquettes. If desired, throw soaked and drained aromatic wood chips or moistened fresh or dried herbs on the fire just before placing the fish on the grill.

Use a steel brush to clean the grill rack well. Brush or spray a small amount of oil on the fish to prevent it from sticking to the grill.

If the fire dies out before the fish is fully cooked, finish the cooking in a conventional oven set to 425°F.

Indoor Grilling
When grilling indoors with a grill pan, make sure the pan is hot before adding the fish. This sometimes takes up to 10 minutes over high heat. Reduce the heat if the pan starts to smoke. Oil the food rather than the pan. If desired, you can sear crisscross grill marks on the fish by turning it 90 degrees after a few minutes.

Plan on cooking fish for 2 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Fish, by Shirley King (Simon & Schuster, 2002).