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How to: fish fillets on the grill or cedar plank

The secret to flavorful, perfectly grilled fish fillets.

Grilling fish at home is easy, delicious, and costs so much less than going out. Follow these six easy steps using Kingsford® Charcoal and your fish fillets will come out moist, flaky, and delicious every time.

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    1

    Fire up the grill

    For grilling fish fillets, you want to set up a direct heat, [two-zone], medium-hot fire. Fire up a full chimney of Kingsford® Original Charcoal, or light a pile of about 100 briquettes. When the coals are ready, replace the top grate and allow it to heat up.

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    Clean and oil grate

    The key to grilling fish fillets is a very clean and hot grate that’s been well oiled; otherwise the fillets will stick and fall apart. Scrub and oil the grate twice. Dip a folded paper towel in cooking oil and oil the entire clean grate using long-handled tongs.

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    Prep the fillet

    Rinse the fillet in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Run your fingers over the fish, feeling for bones, and remove them with kitchen tweezers. Very lightly oil both sides of the fillet with cooking oil, which will help prevent it from sticking to the grate. Season the fish as you like. Keep the fish refrigerated until the coals are ready—you don’t need to bring fish fillets to room temperature before grilling.

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    Cooking fish directly on the grates

    If the skin is on one side of the fillet, place the fillet skin-side down first. You need to get a good sear on the fish to prevent sticking. Do not move or turn the fillets for the first two minutes. When it’s time to turn, be sure to use a wide spatula — or two spatulas facing each other—and gently roll the fillet over as opposed to flipping it. Like with most foods, only flip once. If you want to grill very delicate, thin fillets, lay some slices of lemon or orange on the grill first, instead of putting delicate fillets directly on the grates.

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    The cedar plank method

    Cooking your fish fillets on a cedar plank is a great way to impart smoky flavor, keep the fillets moist, and keep them from sticking on the grates. Soak a cedar plank for 2 hours in water, while you prepare and season your fish fillets (salmon works particularly well).

  6. fish2_560x340 Prepare a two-zone fire. Some cooks like to pre-heat the plank first until it starts to crackle and smoke a bit. Place the plank with the fish fillets on the cooler side of the grill. Grill with the lid on for 13–15 minutes, without flipping. If the edges of the plank start to flare up, spritz the plank, not the coals, with a mister. Cook until the edges of the fish are lightly browned or the fish flakes easily, about 145°F.
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    Checking for doneness

    Fish fillets have a very small window of doneness, so don’t walk away from the grill. The time it takes to grill a fish fillet varies greatly with thickness, but a general rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Use a knife to check the center of the fillet when it’s nearing done. For thin fillets, when the meat is consistently opaque and flakes easily, it’s done. For thick fillets, you want to remove it when the middle is just slightly translucent, because thicker fillets will continue to cook for a few minutes after you remove them from the grill.

The larger the fillet, the more moisture it retains throughout the cooking process. So, grill whole fillets first, then cut them into smaller serving portions when they’re done.
Fish skin is much easier to remove after the fish has been cooked.
Pitmaster Secret: For thick fillets, cook it as long as possible on the skin side, then flip it.

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