How to Grill Fish That Doesn’t Stick

Grilled fish is one of the joys of summer, yet pulling off a perfectly cooked filet that doesn't stick and crumble on the grates can be elusive. But it's easy, says chef Nicole Gaffney, as long as you properly prepare both the grates and the fish, you'll be serving gorgeous, grill-charred filet that slides onto your spatula.

"Start with a grill that's clean, hot, and oiled," says Gaffney. Likewise, make absolute certain the fish is dry and coated in oil.

In Gaffney's grilling demonstration, she used Australis Barramundi, a white fish that's low on toxins, sustainably harvested, and flavorful enough to be enjoyed with minimal fuss. Firm fish like swordfish, tuna, and salmon are also great matches for the grill. Here are her foolproof instructions for grilling fish.

PREP

  1. If you're using a frozen filet, submerge the vacuum-packed fish under cold tap water for 15 minutes. 
  2. Start with a clean grill and set it to high heat. Once it's hot, brush it clean once more.
  3. Soak a paper towel in vegetable oil and, holding it with tongs, wipe the grill grates. Coat all the nooks, crannies, and crevices.
  4. Lay the filets down on a layer of paper towels, and use another paper towel to pat them dry. Moisture will make it stick to the grill, so press firmly and make at least a second pass with a fresh paper towel.
  5. With the filets dry, rub vegetable oil into the fish, followed by salt and fresh cracked pepper. Apply the seasoning liberally, as much of it will fall off into the grill.

GRILL

  1. Lay the fish down diagonally across the grates.
  2. When the sides begin to turn opaque, you should be ready to flip. That's about two minutes on thinner cuts, and up to four minutes on thicker filets.
  3. Using a fish spatula, slide under the filet and gently flip. If the fish is sticking, let it cook another minute.
  4. Once the sides are totally opaque through the thickest part of the filet, squeeze lemon juice over the top (optional), and remove from grill.