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The Best Way to Barbecue Fish

Nov 6, 2007
When coming to barbecue fish, there is a general fear that all the fish will end at the bottom of your barbecue stove as opposed to the well presented pictures in any recipe book; more importantly, remaining as on whole piece at the end of the process. So how does one get that delicious barbequed fish, just right? How do you prevent your fish from sticking to the grill and falling apart?

The primary reason why food sticks to the barbecue grill and falls apart is that the grill is not hot enough when the food is placed on it. You need to get the grill hot enough to not only produce the aromatic sizzling sound but also will continue to do so during the whole cooking process.

Secondly, you need to ensure that your grill is clean. Often food particles get stuck on the surface of the grill and these are areas that your fish may stick to. Keeping a clean grill will reduce the chances of your fish sticking.

Fish normally do not take a look time to cook and it is very important to be very aware of this a barbecue setting. People tend to over cooked it causing it to dry out rather than the deliciously juicy flesh. To ensure that you don't over cook your fish, make sure it is not frozen and it is at a cool temperature but not cold. Try not to use frozen fish at all if you can help it as fish loose its subtle texture and taste when frozen. These qualities also deteriorate rapidly if fish are kept in room temperature for an extended period presenting health risk.

Flipping your fish is like cooking a good piece of steak, you flip it only once. The tendency is not only to flip it more than once but trying to lift it up to see whether it is cook or not; these actions are sure recipe for disaster. The best way from avoiding this rather uncontrollable tendency is to use a timer. Invest in one, put the fish on, set it to the right duration, go away, come back and flip it when the alarms go off. The other trick is to always place the skin side face down first (if the skin is retained and this the recommended way of cooking fish in a barbecue as it helps to hold the flesh together). Furthermore, it adds the crispy texture to the whole dish.

So far, cooking time has been mentioned a number of times but how long is that, unfortunately this one of those 'how long is a piece of string' question - it all depends on the thickness, temperature of your stove and your cooking technique. However, fish in general take much shorter time to cook than meat, a lot shorter. If it is a whole fish you are cooking, slice diagonally across the middle section of the fish (the thickness part of the fish), make a few slices of about 2cm apart. This will allow the heat to get through evenly.

Another way to prevent sticking is to wrap the fish in foil. This way, you can also add flavorings, such as lemon juice and butter. Often you will find that this is the easiest way to keep your fish moist. It is much more difficult to prevent drying out when the fish is placed directly on the grill. However, keep in mind that this will prevent some of the taste of the barbecue from penetrating the fish.

A good invention has been that of the fish basket. You can place your whole fish inside one of these and place them on the barbecue grill. The advantages of these are that you can flip the entire basket, instead of attempting to flip the fish without it breaking. It will also prevent pieces of fish from falling through the bars of the grill.

Recipe of the Day - Barbecue Snapper with Chutney and Parsley

1. 2 People

1. 1 x 3/4 kg of Snapper whole
2. 1 Cup of freshly chopped Parsley
3. 2 Tspn Apricot & Date Chutney
4. Juice from half a lemon
5. 4 Tspn of Macadamia Oil
6. Salt & Pepper to taste
7. Aluminum foil for wrapping

1. Ask the fishmonger to scale and clean the fish for you but keep it whole instead of fillet it. Make sure it is wiped dry using paper towels.

2. Make diagonal slice cut across the mid-section of the fish but do not cut through the bones and seasoned the whole fish with salt and pepper.

3. In another bowl, mix the chopped parsley, macadamia oil, apricot & date chutney and lemon juice together, add a bit more salt and pepper.

4. Spoon some of this mixture into the stomach of the fish and rub the rest throughout the fish. Wrap the fish using the foil and let it stand in a cool place for 30 minutes.

5. When your barbecue stove is ready, place the wrapped fish on the center of the stove. Let it cooked on one side for 5 minutes and turn it over (once only) for another 5 minutes. Note that depending on the thickness, you might need to vary this cooking time a bit.

6. Once it is cooked, unwrapped the foil but be careful of the steam in the wrapping, transfer it to the serving dish and serve hot. Make sure you transfer all the juice in the wrapping to the serving dish as well.
About the Author
Patrick Tang is the author of this article. His passion for good quality gourmet food and gifts has driven him to setup Fabulously Gourmet for the Australian Community.
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