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Home > Tom's Tips > Fish Grilling Guide

Tip of the day

Grilled fish can be wonderfully tasty and it is a nutritious, healthy alternative to some other "grillables" (is that a word?).  Fresh fish is always best.

As with any food grilling, cooking may be through direct (food is placed directly above the heat source of the grill) or indirect (food is placed away from the heat source of the grill).  With direct cooking, the food will cook faster, and is usually chosen for thinner food items.  With indirect cooking, the food will cook slower and more evenly throughout, and is usually chosen for thicker food items.

When cooking fish on a grill, you should use a medium heat setting. Either direct or indirect placement (or both) may be utilized through the cooking process, depending on the thickness, kind of fish, and personal taste preferences. On thicker cuts or whole fish, it is best to use indirect grilling, to allow the cut to cook evenly throughout.  On thinner cuts, direct grilling quickly sears and cooks the fish evenly. 

Here's a couple more tips for grilling fish:
 It's a good idea to keep the fish cold until you're just ready to grill it, to maintain freshness.
 Oiling your grill and the fish cut will help prevent the fish from sticking.
 If skin is still intact, leave on until cooked; place on grill with skin side up for up to six minutes, then turn over for another several minutes until cooked through.

Of course, grilling any food items is always a personal adventure of sorts.  Many of us tend to "over-maintain" when grilling, and perhaps we flip foods too frequently (or possibly not frequently enough).  And, maybe some of us have trouble leaving a piece of fish away from the heat (indirect) because we are trying to rush the cooking process. Or...maybe we're just mesmerized by the wonderfully satisfying aromas emanating from the grill, and we allow the cooking to take its course.  In any case, properly cooked grilled fish (and many other foods!) is one of those satisfying rewards we can get out of life with little effort!

Fish should be opaque and should flake apart when properly cooked through.  Internal temperature of the cooked fish should be at least 145 degrees F.