It's the iconic summer pastime: grilling. Hamburgers seem like a no brainer, but fish only require a few quick tips to ensure a successful and delicious meal. Choosing the right type of whitefish to grill, elevating flavors with simple herb butter, and a good fish spatula are the fundamentals.
For added fun, we’ll walk through building a “fish temple” to protect and infuse your salmon or white fish with aromatics, citrus and smoke. It's easy and the combinations are endless.
- ¼-½ pound of halibut, lingcod, black rockfish, Pacific cod, yelloweye or salmon, thawed
- 4-5 citrus slices (e.g. lemon, lime or orange) OR a handful of smoking wood chips
- Large handful of fresh greens or herbs (e.g. lavender, chives, dill, thyme, beet greens, etc.)
- Coarse salt
- Infused Butter:
- 1½ sticks of unsalted butter
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 6 garlic scapes OR 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For Infused Butter
Place butter in a pot or a small pan over indirect heat on the grill or stove over very low heat. Add remaining ingredients when butter melts. Warm mixture slowly and stirring frequently. Don't let the butter brown or bubble. When butter is infused with nice flavor, about 15 minutes, strain it. Place pure butter in a container and put in the fridge to cool and solidify.
For Fish Temple
Salt the fish and let it rest for 15 minutes before you place it on the grill. While fish is seasoning, fill a bowl up with water and soak your citrus or smoking wood (whichever you choose) for about 15 minutes. Fill up a second bowl with water and soak your greens/herbs for the same amount of time. These soaking ingredients will be layered on the grill to build our “fish temple.”
Preheat the grill to 400-450℉, about 10 minutes, with the burners set to high heat. When it's ripping hot, open the lid and quickly build your “fish temple” by adding the presoaked citrus medallions or presoaked smoking wood chips directly on the grill grate. Place a handful of the presoaked herbs or greens on top of the citrus/wood chips. Place the fish on top of the greens/herbs and top with a dollop of the infused butter. Close the lid. Check the fish at 5 minutes and add another dollop of butter.
Cooking time is dependent on the thickness of your fish; generally about 10 minutes per inch. Experiment with heat control by close monitoring. The layers of citrus/wood and herb/greens will protect the fish from sticking, create a great amount of flavor, and also slow down the cooking a bit. Fish is done when it starts to flake. We prefer our salmon medium-rare (125℉) and 135℉ for whitefish. All the layers will add 5-8 minutes additional cook time. When you are comfortable with the doneness, remove the fish temple from the grill and let it rest on a plate for about 5 minutes. Serve the fish with your favorite side and preferably another dollop of butter.
- We recommend experimenting with each base layer if you have two pieces of fish and smoking wood chips and citrus is available.
- If you are using salmon with skin on, place butter directly on top of the aromatics and put the salmon flesh directly on top of the aromatics and the butter- skin side up- for better infusion.
- If using a charcoal grill, adapt the concept of high heat.
- A ripping hot grill is key to reduce chance of sticking.
- For very thick cuts of fish, keep the grill lid closed. Thinner cuts can be grilled with the lid open or closed for a very brief time.
- Pacific cod and black rockfish do not do well directly on the grilling grate because they are typically a thinner fillet and usually break apart when flipping. But using a fish temple will allow you to grill those species more easily.
- Use 4-5 medallions of citrus or a handful of soaked smoking wood per fish portion
- A lavender, lemon and whitefish temple combination is mind blowing!
- Carry over cooking for salmon on a hot grill around 400℉ can be as much as 25 degrees, so be careful to remove your fish and let it cool before it's completely done or risk drying it out.
Wild At Home
- with Richie Mann -
Wild at Home breaks down the basics for building a “fish temple,” an improv element that will amaze your dinner crowd with endless combinations of aromatics, citrus, and smoke. Forget the sloppy marinades, you won’t need them in the fish temple. Whatever wild caught fish you try and whatever technique you use, don't forget a little oil, a good fish spatula, and a whole lot of backyard dad jokes.