Katie Button shares her fish-grilling expertise with Food & Wine

Grilling season is still going strong…for a few more weeks, anyway. Tired of burgers and steak? Try grilling a whole fish! Food & Wine asked Chef Katie Button for tips on doing it perfectly.

Chef Katie Button grilled whole fish

Learn Chef Button’s tips for the perfect grilled fish. Photo ©Con Poulos via Food & Wine.

From Food & Wine:

1. Pass on gas. “The whole reason I love grilling is the wonderful flavor that a hardwood charcoal gives to the food,” Button says. “You just can’t achieve the same amazing smokiness by using a gas grill.”

2. Heat it up. You want your grill as hot as possible before laying on the fish. This way, you can easily clean up the grates with a dry wire brush ahead of time. “Don’t try to clean your grill while it’s cold,” Button says. “It will take way too much effort.”

3. Put the pedal to the metal. Similar to a cast-iron pan, your grill grate needs seasoning. “Using some long tongs and a paper towel that has been lightly coated in oil, rub the grates,” she says. This little maneuver will also help prevent fish skin from sticking.

4. Bust out your home-ec skills. Instead of fussing with a fish basket, Button threads the fish closed. “I like to stuff them with herbs and wheels of lemon and hold them shut by using a wooden or metal skewer,” she says. And if you rely on the former, read ahead: “If you use a wooden skewer, soak it in water for 30 minutes beforehand,” Button explains. “That will help keep it from burning and splintering.”

5. Get stuck in the middle. Button suggests piling coals one side of the grill and nestling the fish in the center. “I’ll put the fish down with the fatter portion towards the coals,” she says. “I just don’t want the fish right on top of the coals because the skin tends to drip fat and cause flare-ups.” Crisis averted.

6. Resist the urge to tinker. Now that the fish is on the grill, it’s time to mingle with guests, make yourself a drink or maybe find a book to read because you need to let the grill do it’s thing. “Then the most important thing is once they go down, don’t move them,” Button says. “The fish will let you know when its time to be flipped when it releases easily from the grill.”

With these tips, you can master the art of whole-fish grilling like a pro chef. Read the full article here.