Fish and Seafood Barbecue Tips

Fish being grilled in fish baskets over hot coals

For keen home chefs, al fresco cooking is one of the greatest pleasures in life. The combination of good company, warm weather and fresh food has an appeal that goes back millennia. 

Given the circumstances we’ve endured recently we owe it to ourselves to make the most of the opportunity when it arises.

The world of fish and seafood comes into its own outdoors but there are a few points to bear in mind if you’re unaccustomed to barbecuing anything other than red meat or chicken.

Choose wisely

Fish fillets tend to be too delicate for all but the deftest hands when it comes to barbecuing, so unless you’ve an appetite for faff they are best avoided. 

There are plenty of better options – tuna steaks, salmon steaks and monkfish fillets, for example. These are not only tough enough to withstand the heat of coals or a grill but also versatile enough to allow you to be creative.

Alternatively you can wrap whole fish in foil – sea bream, sea bass and rainbow trout being ideal candidates – and leave them to look after themselves, checking occasionally for doneness. Experiment with fresh herbs, slices of lemon and unsalted butter, either dotted over the body or stuffed in the cavity, and maybe a splash of white wine.

Take your time

Be patient. If you’re using an old-school barbecue with coals then don’t even think about cooking fish or seafood on it until there’s a steady medium-to-high heat that will last at least an hour. 

Additionally, whether you’re cooking over coals or on a gas-fired barbecue, make sure the grill itself has reached a decent temperature before placing fish on it – the hotter it is, the lower the chance of anything sticking to it.

Less is more

Respect your ingredients. If you’ve paid good money for exceptional fish then don’t interfere with their natural flavours – rather, choose ingredients that will complement and highlight them. Your barbecue is simply another tool for cooking so don’t make the mistake of thinking you need a whole new set of ingredients.

Be prepared

The final consideration regards equipment. It pays to stock up on kitchen paper, skewers and tinfoil, plus you’ll find that hinged grill baskets and fish baskets are a sound investment if you’re serious about cooking fish and seafood outdoors.



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