Thursday, June 7, 2012

Five Tips: Grilled Fish

Back in the day I was a surfer*.   Fact is, when enter the ocean, you enter the food chain.  [Cue the Theme From Jaws]

Tonight I was cruising the seafood department at my favorite Food City (#694 on Morrell Road) and saw they had wild caught shark steaks on sale for $4.99 a lb!   I now live hundreds of miles from the ocean and haven't surfed in over a decade but figured, why take a chance.  I decided to be proactive and eat a shark* before a shark eats me.  

My fishmonger, Billy, wrapped me up two nice shark steaks and put them on ice to keep them cool on the way home.   [The ice is a small touch, but it is important and it's something a full service seafood department should do for you compared to the "wrap it-pack it-and-stack-it stores" that just pump out pre-packaged stuff onto their shelves and ignore you.] 

Here's what I did with the steaks for a very quick and easy weeknight meal.

I like to use some grilled lime slices as garnish.

Grilled Shark Steaks with "Teri-sharky basting sauce"
serves:  2

  •  2 shark steaks (about 1.25 lbs)
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 Tbsp sherry
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat charcoal grill to high heat (400-450f).  Clean and oil your grill grates once hot.
  2. Make the Teri-sharky basting sauce by whisking the teriyaki, oil, sherry, lime juice, pepper flake and garlic powder together in small bowl.
  3. Season the shark steaks with salt and pepper.  
  4. Grill the steaks for 4 minutes.  Flip, baste, and grill another 5 minutes.  
  5. Flip back to the other side, baste, and cook another minute.  Check the internal temp and remove when the steaks hit 130-135f.  
Keep iced until the last second before going onto the grill, especially on warm days.
Season with salt and pepper at the last minute too.  Salt will draw out the moisture if you do it too far in advance.
Just when the shark thought it was safe to come out of the water....

 Five Tips for Grilling Fish
  1. Keep it cold - Unlike other meats, fish does NOT need to sit at room temperature before grilling.  Fish is highly perishable and should be kept on ice until the last possible minute before going on the grill.
  2. Dry that fish - Sure he spent his whole life in water, but patting the fish dry will help prevent the fish from sticking to the grill grate.
  3. Tuck your tail - fish pieces are often not uniform in thickness which means they won't cook evenly on the grill.  Tuck the thin "tail" end under the rest of the fillet to get an even thickness.
  4. Test Early Test Often - You can't "undo" overdone fish.  The general rule of thumb is cook a TOTAL time of 10 minutes per inch of thickness.  But to be sure, check with an instant read thermometer (a Thermapen REALLY comes in handy with this short time windows).  Your target internal temp is as low as 120f for fatty fish (salmon, tuna) to 140f for leaner fish.
  5. Don't rest - while most meats benefit from a period of rest after cooking, fish does not.  The proteins are more evenly distributed and do not require a rest, serve cooked fish right away.
Bonus tip:  If you grill a lot of fish, you really need to get a set of GrillGrates.  They give good grill marks, gently grill the fish, and more importantly, the grill tool that comes with them makes it easy to cleanly lift the fish off grates without shredding, tearing, and pulverizing it.  They work great with burgers, steaks, chops, and chicken too but I hate to cook fish without them. 
  • Surfing - That was back when I grew up and lived in Florida.  The waves here in Tennessee are horrible.  
  • Eat shark - Yes, you're right, "Chris always says that he HATES fish".  So technically I didn't eat a shark...I fed a shark to my family.  I just ate asparagus.
[Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post.