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Tips and tricks on how to cook grilled fish in the best ways

By Cookist

Have you decided to organize a nice barbecue and you want to do it with those fresh red mullets that you found at the market this morning? Do you have a tuna fillet that says "grill me" but don't you know how to prevent it from becoming dry? Here is a useful guide for the summer: let's see together how to make a perfect fish grill.


Summer is coming and this, in addition to sunbathing, beaches and sea means one thing: succulent grilled fish. King prawns, tuna, salmon and even shellfish, grilling allows the fish to remain soft and juicy, but it is important to follow a few simple rules to avoid bringing a culinary disaster to the table. After choosing the right fish and white wine to pair with, it is important to know how to marinate it and how to treat it before letting it touch the hot grill; here is a small guide to do it without mistakes and present your friends with a perfect grill.

Choose the right fish

Choosing the right fish to prepare a perfect grill is the first and fundamental step and, to clear the field of any doubt, we can start by saying that not all types of fish go well with grilling. Let's start with a great classic: tuna, salmon and swordfish cut into slices of at least 3 cm are the best thing for the barbecue, instead it is better to avoid the octopus which should still be boiled first.


Mackerel, red mullet and sardines: better if of medium size, because of smaller sizes they could burn. An excellent idea is to cook them whole but having them first cleaned from the entrails and maybe massaged with extra virgin olive oil.

Flying squids, cuttlefish and calamari can remain on the grill for a short time and always if not too big, the risk is in fact that they become rubbery, practically inedible.

Crustaceans? Yes, please: leave the shell of prawns and king prawns, but remove the head before marinating them (we will see it in point 2) and cook them gently on the grill. As for mussels and scallops: cooking on the grill but in foil is recommended, to prevent direct contact with heat at high temperatures that will burn them in no time.

Prepare the marinade for the fish

Take the fish and pass it from the refrigerator to the grill: nothing more wrong. Before putting it on the grill, the fish must be cleaned, gutted and "pampered" with a good and balanced marinade. Extra virgin olive oil, aromatic herbs and an acid element between lemon juice, wine, beer or vinegar: resting in the marinade, the fish will soften and will therefore be easier to cook, without running the risk of drying out.


How long does marinating take? For slices and crustaceans 30 minutes are enough, while if the fish is whole it will be left to rest for 1-2 hours, in both cases in a tightly closed ceramic, glass or pyrex container, or covered with cling film.

Cooking times

You have cleaned, marinated and laid the fish on the grill: now the question is, how long should it cook? The rule to never forget is that obviously the smaller the fish, the less time it will have to be in contact with the heat. Let's take some examples:

To cook salmon or tuna slices, 2 minutes per side are enough, minutes that rise to 3 if you are grilling swordfish;

Prawns and king prawns must be cooked 2 minutes per side, without removing the carapace;

Mackerel, red mullet and sea bass must not cook for more than 4 minutes on one side and 2 on the other, in this way you will prevent them from drying out.

Tips and tricks

To cook grilled fish in the best way you need to follow some small and simple rules. First point: before gently placing the fish on the grill, make sure that the grill is very hot (it must oscillate between 140 degrees C and 160 degrees C), the risk, otherwise, is that the Maillard reaction will not occur and therefore no delicious crust on the outer surface of your sea bass.

Step two: avoid fish sticking to the grill at all costs, a thing that would ruin your dinner. The ways to do it are different: the simplest is to leave the skin so that it protects the pulp, alternatively, you can replace the skin with some flouring or breading.


Point three: if cooked too close to the heat source, the fish will end up burning in a few seconds so the advice is to opt for grills with no high flames and a distance of at least 10 cm between coals and grill.

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