How to Buy, Keep and BBQ Great Tasting Fish

What is the overriding key to cooking great tasting fish outdoors?

Before cooking fish outdoors you really should ensure that you buy yourself the freshest fish available.

Where to buy your fish

If you have a local fish market then this will probably be the best place to go because they have a high turnover and so you’re most likely to get really fresh fish. Of course if you live near the sea then buying it off the boat will be unbeatable. But all said and done most of us have to rely on the local supermarket so checking with the staff that the fish is really fresh is a must; getting to know the fish counter staff is the key that best assures good advice. Fish market near me

So, how much fish should you buy and what should you look for?

When buying fillets for a group aim for a third to half a pound of fish per person. When looking at whole fish what you’re looking for is:

  • fresh fish that is bright and shiny, not dull;
  • fish that has gills that are pinky-red and wet;
  • fish that have a body that when prodded retains its shape and feels firm;
  • fish that have clear bulging eyes, not cloudy [albeit a Herring’s eyes will be red];
  • fish that smells of the sea; if it smells fishy then beware.
  • When buying fresh fish fillets or steaks these should be moist and without any brown or yellowy discoloration;and
  • if the flesh is separated out or its spongy then its unlikely to be fresh

How to store your fish

Keeping your fish fresh both before you’ve cooked it and after is essential; here’s how best to do this:

  1. Crustacea in shells, like Mussels, oysters and clams must not be frozen, but they last for 2-3 days if kept on ice in a refrigerator.If you put hem in a container ensure that it is well ventilated. Don’t put them in fresh water, salted water is best. They should be eaten within a few days of buying them.
  2. Keep the fish frozen if you purchased it frozen and look at your refrigerator instructions for the recommended maximum time for keeping fish in the freezer; but my advice is the shorter the better;
  3.  Unfreeze your fish only when you are ready to use it. Never cook unfrozen or partially unfrozen fish.
  4. When cooked always either wrap cooked fish in moisture proof paper or keep it in an airtight container.

12 tips on how to BBQ great tasting fish outdoors

Barbecuing fish is straightforward and the tastes are wonderful, it just takes a little care and the right equipment; the ideal piece of kit is the Bayou Classic Cypress Series ceramic grill. This grill can be used not only to BBQ  but also to smoke, grill or bake.

  1. Dependent on the fish you can decide whether to fillet the fish or not; its your call;
  2. Before barbecuing, marinate the fish using your preferred mix of dry herbs, spices, salt, pepper, onions, lemon, lime, garlic, honey, whatever. Fish is really chef-friendly as it doesn’t take as long as meat to marinate so do it about 1 hour ahead of cooking. Remember also that herbs & spices can be rubbed into the flesh just before grilling.
  3. If you’re after that smoked flavour the simple way to do this is to toss a handful of chips directly on the charcoal just before adding the fish; if you’re using the Ceramic grill then this is a whole new ball game with smokey flavors unlimited;
  4. Make sure that you heat up the grill before starting to BBQ and don’t let it get it too hot, a medium-hot is fine; and don’t start cooking too early before the required heat is attained.
  5. Butter the entire fish before barbecuing if it hasn’t been marinated;
  6. Place the fillets scales down across the grill; this will help keep your fish from sticking;
  7. Cooking fish is an art. Remember that fish is delicate but that it is easy to cook providing you remember that it doesn’t take long to cook and that if cooked too long it will get tough and lose both its flavor & moisture; so take care. Remember, its not the weight of the fish but the thickness of the fish that determines how long you should cook it. The guidelines for how long to cook fish is to calculate 5 minutes per centimeter or 10 minutes per inch of thickness in the thickest part of the fish.
  8.  Handle your fish as little as possible, fish easily falls apart;
  9. Use a well oiled griddle then use a fish slice to turn your fish; don’t use thick spatulas;
  10. BBQ your fish hot & fast; this way its cooked well without loss of moisture;
  11. Barbecued fish is cooked as soon as the centre of the fish is opaque. Take care if there is a large difference in the thickness of the fish as some parts will be undone and others over cooked if the whole fish is cooked as one unit; its best, if there is variance in the size of the fish to cut it into steaks of equal thickness;
  12. Remove the fish from the grill as soon as the inside turns opaque. Never leave the fish on or near the hot grill once its cooked; place it on a warmed plate and serve as soon as possible

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