This post is intended to provide general guidelines and tools to cooking your favourite fish on the barbie. The captions in this post are simple suggestions for basic grilling techniques. Be sure to keep an eye out for further instalments in the POSEIDON’S BOUNTY SERIES for fish and seafood recipes tailored to the grill!
In recent years we’ve come to realize that a diet rich in fish is very beneficial to our health. In this post we will explore several varieties of fish from small to large and what properties different types of fish possess. Serving fish doesn’t have to be daunting or challenging either when it comes to cooking it on the barbie! In fact, with the right techniques and tools, fish can be enjoyed and quite easily prepared and cooked outdoors at any time of year.
Small fish such as pilchards, sardines, herrings and sprats are extremely high in B vitamins, vitamin D, niacin, essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, potassium and selenium as well as a huge concentration of marine Omega-3 fatty acids. These types of fish are in fact those with the most beneficial properties and should take a large role in our weekly diets. They are also simple to clean and their small size makes for quick marinating and grilling.
When grilling them directly on the grill or hotplate (without the use of a fish basket) be sure to use a good amount of extra virgin olive oil when seasoning or marinating them and to oil the grill or hotplate well beforehand. It’s also important to make sure that your grill is very hot as this will sear the skin of the fish before allowing it to stick, ensuring that the fish can be easily removed from the BBQ whole instead of breaking up.
Medium sized predatory fish like sea bream, squirefish and snappers are similar to smaller fish and are also rich in many of the same nutrients as well as being abundant in omega-3 fatty acids which are of course all beneficial to one’s health. Without stating the obvious, all fish are an excellent source of protein.
Medium to large sized fish have many of the same nutritional benefits as small fish however, they offer a unique opportunity when cooking them on the barbie. The cavity of the fish can be stuffed with a wide range of herbs, spices and aromatic fruits and vegetables. This of course, combined with marinating, dry rubbing or seasoning adds extra flavour to the fish while it’s cooking however, does not make it so easy to cook directly on the grill. Traditionally, fish that have been stuffed would have been wrapped in leaves. Today’s culinary methods include wrapping them in tin foil or cooking them in a fish basket. This usually limits how many fish can be cooked at one time however, I’ve devised a great way to cook a medium sized fish using a rib rack that makes the results worth the effort. As the natural juices from the fish run down the sides and back of the fish during the grilling process, the back remains constantly moist and doesn’t burn. The sides and bellies benefit from good heat and soak up lots of flavour as the juices steam back upwards from the flames below. A major plus of this method is that the fish don’t stick to the rack.
There are certain fish that have a thick, firm flesh that doesn’t flake readily when cooked. Examples would include bonito, albacore tuna and swordfish.
Because the flesh doesn’t break apart when cooked it makes them ideal for marinating and skewering with vegetables; turning them into delicious kebabs. Skewers are ideal for an easy meal as the proteins and the vegetables all cook together, all you need is a side dish. As with any kebabs, the choice of marinades are virtually endless, allowing you to select your preferred flavours from those offered around the globe.
Bear in mind that while consuming fish is a healthy way of eating, caution should be taken when eating larger species of fish, namely predatory fish such as shark (flake), marlin or swordfish. The higher-up the food chain that a fish inhabits results in a higher level of mercury contained in that fish. For more information on nutritional benefits, cautions and recommended guidelines visit http://foodwatch.com.au and type fish and omega-3 into the search field or http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/ and type in fish and mercury into the search field.