Hooked on the grill

A fearless guide for barbecuing your favorite seafood
Andrew Baker

How To Grill Fish

Heat grill while you prepare the fish to cook.


DIRECT HEAT - beneath the food

1. If using charcoal briquets, cover firegrate with a single, solid layer of ignited coals. Let briquets burn down to desired heat.

If using a gas barbecue, turn burners to high and close lid for 10 minutes. Adjust the burners to desired heat.

Set the barbecue grill in place and measure heat:

  • VERY HOT (you can hold your hand at grill level only 1 to 2 seconds)
  • HOT (you can hold your hand at grill level only 2 to 3 seconds)
  • MEDIUM-HOT (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds)
  • MEDIUM (you can hold your hand at grill level only 4 to 5 seconds)
  • MEDIUM-LOW (you can hold your hand at grill level only 5 to 6 seconds)
  • LOW (you can hold your hand at grill level only 6 to 7 seconds)


2. To oil grill, brush with salad oil. Lay food on grill, cook as recipe directs.

3. Cover gas barbecue. Do not cover charcoal barbecue unless recipe specifies.


INDIRECT HEAT - on opposite sides of the food

1. If using charcoal briquets, mound and ignite 60 briquets on the firegrate of a barbecue with a lid. When briquets are dotted with gray ash, in 15 to 20 minutes, push equal amounts to opposite sides of firegrate. Add 5 more briquets to each mound of coals now and every 30 minutes while cooking. Set a drip pan on firegrate between coals.

If using a gas barbecue, turn all burners to high and close lid for 10 minutes. Adjust burners for indirect cooking (no heat down center) and keep on high unless recipe specifies otherwise.

Set barbecue grill in place.

2. To oil grill, brush with salad oil. Lay food on grill, but not over heat source.

3. Cover grill (open vents for charcoal). Cook as recipe directs.

Firm, dense fish that can go directly onto the grill: mackerel, mahi mahi, opah (moonfish), orange roughy, salmon (with skin), shark, sturgeon, swordfish, and tuna.

Fish that need support: barracuda, bass, butterfish, catfish, Chilean seabass, cod, flounder, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, sablefish, salmon (without skin), sand dab, snapper, sole, tilapia, and trout.

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