Moveable Feasts
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20 Recipes and Tips for Grilling Fish This Summer

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Moveable Feasts
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Keeping It Reel

Summer and grilled fish go hand in hand. Everything from whole fish like salmon to shrimp and lobster are mouthwatering choices. Here are several recipe options to keep you busy all summer long, as well as grilling tips from top chefs to make any grilled fish recipe a success.

Related: 27 Barbecue Recipes and Tricks From Celebrity Chefs

Prepping the Grill
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Prepping the Grill

First things first. Always take care of your grill, says Brian Bennett, executive chef at the meal-prep service Eat Clean Bro. “This will greatly help you cook something as delicate as fish and not impart any flavors that you may not want,” Bennett explains. “Make sure you brush it, oil the grates and cover it. So, it’s primed and ready.”

Heating the Grill
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Heating the Grill

Before you start cooking let the grill heat for at least 5 minutes on high heat, says chef Jesse Maldonado, from the high-end restaurant chain Estiatorio Milos. “Otherwise the food will stick,” explains Maldonado. “Sprinkle salt and pepper on the grill, then use a pastry brush or spray to lightly coat it with olive oil.”

Essential Tools and Timing
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Essential Tools and Timing

When cooking whole fish, it’s a good idea to use a fish rack to ensure it doesn’t touch the grill, adds Maldonado, of Estiatorio Milos. “Cook over a medium-high flame for 10 to 12 minutes per pound, 5 to 6 minutes per side,” he added. “If the juices are red, it needs more time. If they are clear, it’s ready to go.”

Related: 25 Grilling Accessories You Didn't Know You Needed

Skip the Frozen Fish
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Skip the Frozen Fish

Never grill anything frozen, says Bennett, of Eat Clean Bro. “Also let the fish sit outside of the fridge before cooking it, just for a few minutes,” he adds. “This way, when you drop it on the grill it doesn’t drop the temperature or seize the fish up which will make it stick.”

Using Your Grill as a Smoker
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Using Your Grill as a Smoker

Straight up grilling isn’t the only way to use your barbecue. Chef Matt McCormick, of Weber Grill Restaurant, suggests using it as a smoker. “Just soak wood chips in water and put them in a small foil pan directly on the flame and close the lid to trap the smoke,” he explains, adding that salmon in particular tastes great with a smoky quality.

Mouthwatering Lobster
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Mouthwatering Lobster

When cooking live lobster, Maldonado, of Estiatorio Milos, suggests boiling it for 6 to 7 minutes first with bay leaves, pepper, and carrots. “Next, split it in half and brush extra virgin olive oil on the meat,” said Maldonado. “Place the lobster belly side down on the grill over medium heat, grill for 2 minutes, then flip over and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.”

Grilling Shrimp
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Grilling Shrimp

When it comes to grilling shrimp, Claudia Sidoti, principal chef at the meal-kit provider HelloFresh, suggests the best bet is preheating the grill to high and brushing the grill grates or pan with oil to prevent sticking. Next, “pat the shrimp the shrimp dry, even if they’re marinated. Drain or pat off any excess moisture and grill 2 to 4 minutes per side depending on size.”

Grilling en Papillote
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Grilling en Papillote

En papillote, also known as cooking “in a packet” is a fuss-free and flavorful way to cook seafood, says Sidoti, of Hello Fresh. “In traditional French en papillote cooking, food is sealed in parchment paper packets and baked. Flavors mingle and intensify as the steam conducts heat and gently cooks what’s inside,” Sidoti explained. “Not only is there little to no cleanup, but it also makes for a stunning presentation as the folds of the packet are opened up like a present to reveal an elegant and aromatic result.” In summer, swap out the parchment paper for foil, which is easier to seal tightly and also reseal if you need to take a quick peek at the fish during cooking. And don’t be afraid to throw veggies, citrus, spices, and herbs into the package to amp up the color and infuse even more flavor.”

The Two-Zone Cooking Method
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The Two-Zone Cooking Method

Using a two-zone cooking method is a great approach for cooking virtually all fish, suggests Chef Matt McCormick, of Weber Grill Restaurants. “It allows for whatever you’re cooking to get a good caramelization over the crust while cooking to the desired temperature without burning and charring the protein,” said McCormick. To do this, set up half of your grill with hot direct heat and half of the grill with no heat underneath. Sear the fish over the flame and then move it to the indirect area of the grill. Put the cover on and finish the cooking process like you’re cooking in an oven.

Avoid Overcooking
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Avoid Overcooking

With delicate food like fish, it’s easy to quickly overcook it, which can ruin the meal entirely. Brian Hinshaw, executive corporate chef of Ocean Prime, says 8 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness is a good guideline for cooking a piece of fish. “Most shellfish is fully cooked in just a few minutes, as soon as it’s opaque,” said Hinshaw. “Overcooked shellfish is rubbery and tough.”

Keep it Simple
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Keep it Simple

While there are all kinds of recipes and seasonings you can try on fish, Hinshaw, of Ocean Prime, says nothing beats a simple approach. “You can’t go wrong with just a little sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and lemon juice,” said Hinshaw. “Less is more when it comes to seasoning seafood.

Thai Grilled Shrimp Skewers
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Thai Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Thai Grilled Shrimp Skewers are both flavorful and healthy, says food blogger Danielle Wolter, creator of the site Went Here 8 This. Wolter’s recipe involves creating a marinade using fish sauce, tamarind and soy sauce, and sweetening the mixture with just a touch of coconut sugar. Place all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the shrimp and let set for an hour in the fridge. After that, put the shrimp on skewers and cook on a 500-degree grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Moroccan Grilled Fish
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Moroccan Grilled Fish

A personal favorite from Executive Chef Keith Endo of Vino Italian Tapas & Wine Bar in Honolulu, Moroccan grilled fish involves simply grilling a whole fish seasoned with salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. “I serve it topped with a simple salad of chopped garlic, fresh squeezed lemon juice, fine slivers of red radish, sumac, salt and pepper, and EVO,” Endo said. “And on the side, I serve a charred lemon to squeeze over the fish — the flavor is delish.”

Lemon Pepper Cedar Plank Salmon
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Lemon Pepper Cedar Plank Salmon

Celebrity caterer Andrea Correale, founder of the catering company Elegant Affairs, says it’s always a great idea to grill fish on cedar planks. “The cedar gives the fish a great taste, and it's visually appealing as well,” says Correale. Her lemon pepper cedar plank salmon recipe uses lemon pepper (2 tbsp); one lemon; one clove garlic thinly sliced; chopped parsley (1/2 cup); sea salt to taste and extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup). Soak the plank in cold water overnight or for at least three hours. After preheating the grill to medium, place the salmon on the plank and sprinkle with salt and lemon pepper. Put the plank on the cooler side of the grill, close the lid and grill 20 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl — zesting the lemon, slicing the garlic, and chopping the parsley. Combine with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Fish Zarandeado
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Fish Zarandeado

Panama Jack Resorts Cancun’s Executive Chef Jaime Poot likes to use a traditional Mexican fish grilling technique known as “zarandeado,” which means “shaken.” For this method, the fish is split in half from head to tail, leaving in most of the bones. Both sides are then marinated and placed in a wire grilling basket that allows the fish to be turned frequently without tearing the meat apart. “Once cooked, the meat can be eaten on its own or easily pulled apart and put into a delicious taco,” Poot says.

Honey Fish Tacos
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Honey Fish Tacos

From the National Honey Board, this easy-to-make dish requires honey (1/2 cup); mahi-mahi (12 oz.); cabbage; crema Mexicana (2 oz.); limes (2); tortillas (8) and a pinch of salt. Simply rinse and clean the mahi-mahi, patting it dry and cutting it into eight strips sprinkled with salt. After finely cutting the cabbage, squeeze half of the lime over it and set aside. Cook the mahi-mahi over medium grill heat for 3 minutes on each side. Just before removing the fish from the grill, brush it with honey. Warm the tortillas for about a minute and begin building your tacos first with the mahi-mahi, then topping the fish with cabbage, lime juice, crema, and a drizzle of the remaining honey.

Honey Bourbon Red Snapper
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Honey Bourbon Red Snapper

This Honey Board recipe uses a whole red or yellowtail snapper. It also requires honey (4 tbsp); bourbon (4 tbsp); and the juice of one lime, as well as salt. After cleaning and descaling the snapper, score three slices across both sides of the fish. Sprinkle with salt and pour the lime juice over the fish. In a bowl, mix the honey and bourbon and set aside. Cook the snapper on a medium high grill, and brush with honey bourbon twice on each side. Cook about 7 to 8 minutes per side.

Grilled Mediterranean Cedar Plank Salmon Gyros
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Grilled Mediterranean Cedar Plank Salmon Gyros

The ingredients for this unique take on summer fish grilling from Rima Kleiner, blogger at Dish on Fish, include salmon fillet (1 lb); lemon, halved (1); olive oil (1 tsp); pita bread or flatbread; baby spinach (1 cup); cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (1/2 cup); pitted Kalamata olives, halved or sliced (1/4 cup); tzatziki or cucumber-dill sauce; feta cheese garnish and salt and pepper. Season salmon with juice from half of the lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper. Cut the other half of the lemon into thin slices. Place salmon on a cedar plank, top with lemon and grill directly over heat for 3 to 4 minutes until plank begins to char. Transfer the plank to the indirect heat side of grill and cook 12 to 15 more minutes. Add pitas or flatbread to grill to warm (about 1 to 2 minutes per side). Top pitas with tzatziki sauce, spinach, tomatoes and olives, add salmon and feta.

Grilled Fish with Heirloom Tomato, Asparagus & Almond Salad
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Grilled Fish with Heirloom Tomato, Asparagus & Almond Salad

A meal that combines colorful vegetables with grilled fish, this recipe from the Almond Board of California is best prepared with hearty fish such as tuna or orange roughy. Ingredients include one bunch asparagus; one pound heirloom tomatoes; chopped almonds (1/3 cup); minced red onion (1 tbsp); extra virgin olive oil (1 tbsp); lime juice (2 tbsp); salt (1/4 tsp); pepper (1/4 tsp); four tuna, orange roughy or other fish fillet (6 oz.). Lay asparagus in a skillet and cover with salted water, bringing to a boil and cooking (covered) for 5 minutes for slender spears and 7 minutes for fat spears. Cut and combine with tomatoes, almonds, onion, olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Grill the fish 4 to 5 minutes per side on medium heat, top with salad, and serve.

Grilled Sea Bass
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Grilled Sea Bass

For an unforgettable summer meal, Bennett, of Eat Clean Bro suggests getting a whole fish such as brazino (European sea bass) and stuffing it with lemons, onions, capers, garlic and some herbs. Then, either grill it straight on the grill or wrap it in foil. “You will thank me later,” says Bennett.