There are lot of different grilling options for fish—cedar plank, basket, right on the grate—but whichever method you chose, it’s important to know when your fish is fully cooked and ready to be served. And it’s not as easy as it sounds! Many cooks are overwhelmed when working with delicate and temperamental pieces of fish. Here are a few tips for fish grilling that will help you steer clear of too dry or too raw and land on ‘just right’!
Watch the clock
There’s no magic grilling time for anything, but the rule of thumb for fish is to cook it for eight minutes per inch of thickness for steaks and fillets and 10 minutes if you’re grilling a whole fish. Sticking close to that time frame will remove some stressful guesswork from the equation.
Check the colour
There are certain colour cues you can watch for when working with fish. If you’re cooking it with the skin on, wait until it browns and pulls slightly away from the flesh before you flip it to cook the second side. When the fish turns slightly opaque it’s ready to come off the grill completely.
Use the “flip and poke” test
If you’re nervous about judging from colour alone, you can get a little more physical with your fish. Lift the corner with a metal spatula and if it doesn’t stick, it’s ready to be flipped. If you feel resistance, your fish needs more time. When you’ve cooked the second side, poke it carefully with a fork or the tip of the knife. The flesh should flake apart easily. Just make sure you test the thickest piece so you know it’s cooked all the way through.
Check the temperature
You can also insert a meat thermometer into the fish to check if it’s cooked. It should be about 140 degrees. But be careful that you don’t split your fillets—fish is much more delicate than meat when cooked and can easily fall apart on the grill.
Take it off early
For superior results, pull your fish off the grill a few minutes before it’s completely done, when it’s still slightly translucent. It will continue to cook as it cools down, achieving the perfect texture. You can always toss your fish back on the grill if it’s slightly underdone, but you can’t salvage a dry, overcooked product.