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Grilling Fish

Martha Stewart Living, June 2003

Probably the quickest and easiest method for cooking fish, grilling imparts a hearty, smoky flavor and delicious blackened edges and striping to fillets and whole fish. It is best for thick (at least half-inch), meaty fillets or steaks with strong flavor that can stand up to the smoky tang of the grill. Swordfish, tuna, salmon, mackerel, and bluefish are ideal choices because their natural oils help keep their flesh moist; thin fillets dry up too quickly over the grill's intense heat.

A whole grilled fish is just as easy to prepare as a fillet, and it makes a stunning presentation. Enjoying it will take just a little more navigation on the part of your guests to avoid the bones, but the flavor imparted by a fish roasted on the bone is worth every extra effort.

Tips to Prevent Sticking
1. Fish with an abundance of natural oils are less likely to stick to the grill than non-oily fish, like red snapper and sea bass. Cook non-oily fish in a fish-shaped grilling basket, or lightly coat both fish and grill with oil before cooking.

2. Whole fish grilled with its scales on will not stick. The skin and scales can be easily removed after the fish has been cooked. (This method poses a problem only if you enjoy eating the skin.)

3. Make sure the grill is very clean and very hot. Placing a fish on a cool or even medium-hot grill will cause the skin to stick.

4. Make sure the fish is perfectly dry before grilling it. If the fish has been marinated, wipe the excess marinade off thoroughly with paper towels before cooking.

5. Wrapping the fish in aluminum foil will prevent it from sticking; but, it should be noted, it will also prevent it from absorbing any of the grill's flavor. Rather, it will taste as if it has been cooked en papillote.