Favour the flavour of fish when getting into your grill mood.
Sure, we love our steaks, ribs and hotdogs when cooking outdoors, but let's not forget the halibut, haddock, salmon, perch and catfish when firing up your friendly barbecue.
Served with a favourite side of potatoes, corn and salad, grilled fillets, be they fresh or salt water, are fabulous.
Grilling any firm-fleshed fish is fast and incredibly simple. According to Mark Bittman's excellent How To Cook Everything -- The Basics (Wiley), think of fish in groups: Thick fillets, thin fillets and steak cut. Thick, such as halibut, cod, salmon, catfish and sea bass are "a good place for beginners to start," for those who want to grill but may be hesitant to try their hand at cooking such a delicate cut. These cuts are fast to cook, so Bittman suggests a slight undercooking on the grill. "The interior is still a little translucent and just beginning to break into flakes," he says.
Practice makes perfect, and the more you cook with fish the better you'll get at visually recognizing when it is ready.
A good rule of thumb, says Bittman, is to be flexible. "For every fish you can think of, there are others much like it -- they're interchangeable." Flavour and texture may vary, so try your hand at different types, and go fresh when possible, as opposed to frozen.
Talk to the pros -- fishmongers, family members and friends who know their fish. You can prepare and grill with a dash of oil and a spritz of lemon, or try a selection of herbs and spices to bring a new dimension of flavour to your dish.
All your limited to is your imagination. Recipes courtesy U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish, Uscatfish.com.
Italian Grilled Catfish
You can use any mild-fleshed fillet such perch, halibut pickerel or catfish for this recipe.
3 Tbsp. (45 ml) each dried basil, oregano and rosemary
1 tsp. (5 ml) each garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (50 ml) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or other hard Italian cheese
Vegetable oil, to coat
2 fillets of choIce, 6 to 8 oz (180 to 250 g) each
Lightly oil grill and preheat barbecue or broiler to high.
In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients except fish and vegetable oil spray.
Spray both sides of each fillet lightly with vegetable oil. Generously sprinkle both sides of fillet with spice rub (any extra rub can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week.)
Grill or broil over high heat until fish flakes with a fork, 4 to 5 minutes a side.
Jalapeno & Honey Glazed BBQ Catfish
4 catfish fillets, 6 to 8 oz (180 to 250 g) each
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp (2 ml) each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fresh ground black pepper
Jalapeno and Honey Glaze
1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) honey
1/2 cup (125ml) favourite barbecue sauce
Prepare a grill or preheat the broiler.
Put fresh fillets in a shallow dish and brush each fillet with lemon juice. Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper.
Place fillets on an oiled grill rack or broiler pan rack. Grill or broil fillets about 4 inches (10 cm) from heat until fish flakes easily with a fork, 4 to 5 minutes a side.
Mix glaze ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Transfer fillets to serving plates and spoon glaze over top. Serve with roasted potatoes and coleslaw.