How to BBQ fish to perfection every time

how to BBQ fish

Pick up a fish fillet. Grab a prawn. Select some salmon. It’s all super-tasty and very healthy. But how to BBQ fish to perfection outdoors without it falling apart, or dropping it into the fire, or frazzling it to a crisp?

Fish is meaty… but the texture is usually a lot more delicate than most meats, unless you’re going for a dense slab of shark or a thick chunk of fresh tuna. This is your guide to BBQing fish like a pro. Get your eating gear around this!

Rondo dark masonry BBQ

Here’s how to BBQ fish perfectly

You don’t want to dry it out. Luckily there are a few cool ways to create BBQ fish dishes so it melts in your mouth as it should. It’s easy to bake fish on your barbie to give it a gorgeous crisp surface if you prefer crispiness to a succulent and moist surface. It’s a fantastic treat when served with a fresh salad, a nutty bread roll, a classic baked spud or a veggie kebab.

First of all, it’s never a good idea to try to cook fish on a super-hot barbie. There’s no need for heat so high it sears. Instead, fire up your grill so it’s medium-hot or leave a cooler area on a hot grill for the fish. If it’s too hot you’ll end up with burned skin and an undercooked middle. Not good.

As we mentioned, most fish has a delicate flavour. While you can easily stuff an entire fish with a delicious stuffing, it is wonderful all on its own. Stuff yours with not-too-bold flavour classics like fresh herbs, lemongrass, ginger and chilli. Rub the surface with a special BBQ rub if you like. The results can be awesome. Or just leave your fish as it is, to delight your taste buds all on its own, simply served with crusty bread and salty butter.

Cook King Haiti 80cm Fire Bowl

Does the type of BBQ grill make a difference?

If your BBQ grill has wide-apart bars, you’ll struggle to cook small, delicate fish fillets without them falling through onto the flames. You might want to wrap them in foil or use a special metal fish basket to keep everything safely together while you cook.

A fish basket is made of two often-fish-shaped metal racks with a hinge. All you do is capture the fish inside then put the basket directly on the barbecue. The basked gives you those lovely charred lines you get from classic barbie food.

You might find it useful to buy a fine-mesh grill to cook fish fillets with ease. Oiling the fish lightly before you begin means it’s less likely to stick to the grill. If wrapping it in foil, add seasoning and oil the fish before you wrap it. Adding salt will add flavour but if you cook it in foil, your fish skin won’t be crisp. It’ll be moist and flavoursome, which is just as hard to resist!

Simple guide to BBQ fish

Here are some hot tips to help you keep things really tasty:

  • Cook fish fillets skin side downwards first, then turn it over to do the other side once the skin is crisp and brown – you can eat BBQ fish skin, it tastes amazing
  • Wrap an entire fish in five layers of newspaper then soak the package in water to keep your fish moist. The newspaper smokes on the BBQ without catching fire to give you a beautifully cooked result
  • How do you know when your fish is BBQed to perfection? Gently press the flesh and see what happens. It’s ready when it separates into flakes, is hot right to the centre, and looks cooked. What does ‘looks cooked’ mean? Like meat, the colour of the flash changes as fish cooks, so it’s easy to spot any raw bits
  • You can marinate fish then dice it to go on kebab sticks, either with or without vegetables
  • Break it up and add breadcrumbs and herbs to make fabulous fish burgers to serve in a classic burger bun with sauce
  • Marinating fish adds extra flavour. Try a drizzle of oil with some dried or fresh herbs and some lemon or lime juice. Garlic, chilli, basil and thyme also go really well with fish
  • Make flavoured butter to enhance your fish, adding delicious chives, tarragon or parsley
  • BBQ fish loves sauces and dips like salsa verde, tartare sauce, lemony mayonnaise, and avocado dip

Brilliant BBQ fish recipes

Here are three sources of beautiful BBQ fish recipes to inspire you:

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