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Grilled fish: 5 mistakes we often make
Grilled fish: 5 mistakes we often make

In short, the good weather will come sooner or later, right? Because I've already organized myself twice for one seafood Grill in the garden and, at the last moment, black clouds and pouring water.

Last Sunday I had wonderful mackerel and prawns so big and pulpy that I really regretted having to just put them in the oven instead of roasting them on the grill.

Because, as good as they are, I lacked that irresistible aroma of smoke that is what makes the difference between cooking on the grill (wood, of course) and any other.

Fish and grill, therefore: needless to say that between the good and the bad there are the usual 5 mistakes. Those who transform savory, firm, succulent meats into poor dry bites that only taste burnt.

So here is the list of what not to do if you want to put the sea on fire.

1. Wrong variety

Whole grilled fish
Whole grilled fish

Not all fish are made to go straight to the grill. Large cephalopod molluscs are not, starting with the octopus, which must first be boiled. Even squid, squid and cuttlefish must be chosen carefully, small if possible, or you will end up with gum filled and unwrapped.

As for bivalve molluscs (large mussels, scallops), they can be interesting as long as they are wrapped in a foil and kept at extremely moderate heat (see point 4): otherwise, they too become rubbery.

It is not easy to choose very small fish. If sardines and grilled sardines are delicious, they burn for a while, so they require constant surveillance.

The more the size increases, the easier the game becomes and cooking a large sea bream can give equally great satisfaction without too many problems.

This, if we are talking about whole fish. If, on the other hand, you want to throw some slices on the grill, make sure they are at least a couple of centimeters thick. Forget slices, cod hearts and the like. Better still if you focus on whole fillets of tuna or swordfish, like a roast.

2. Marinate badly

marinade for fish
marinade for fish

Generally, I find the fish already tasty enough on its own and I am not a fan of the initial marinade.

Rather, I like to accompany it with a simple citronette (oil, lemon, salt and pepper) or with a salmoriglio (as before but with the addition of garlic, parsley and / or oregano) to sprinkle on the plate. But even without anything, especially the blue fish (mackerel, sardines) is delicious.

However, if you like to work in advance, you can think of putting the fish to marinate in the aforementioned condiments for a time that can vary from half an hour to about an hour, as long as the container is covered and in the refrigerator (least cold part).

Attention only when going to the fire: fish, molluscs or crustaceans must be well drained, even better if dabbed with kitchen paper.

Woe to them if oil drips on the embers: the resulting flame could spoil everything.

3. Throw on the grill

fish on the grill
fish on the grill

The fish is delicate. The pulp is protected by a very thin skin. That it sticks to the grill rods is a snap. If this happens, turning the fish without breaking is virtually impossible.

The number one solution is book-style grills, in which you can lock the fish in without first having greased them well, for example using crumpled kitchen paper dipped in oil.

My home remedy is to put the cast iron grill pan on the barbecue, also well oiled, on which I can also go with the paddle, to turn the smaller pieces and slices, for which I find it particularly suitable. If, of course, your barbecue is equipped with a griddle, the problem is solved.

In all cases, do not scale the fish (of course, unless you cook mackerel, naturally without scales): the thin flakes, in fact, work as protection for the skin and pulp.

On the other hand, crustaceans with their shells can be placed directly on the chopsticks. Even if here the problem of cleaning arises, or rather the elimination of the intestine: to remove it, cut the carapace on the back, from tail to head with scissors, widen them, locate it, lift it and go.

That certain grilled prawns, that when you peel them and bite into the pulp you end up with a black thread between your teeth, cannot be proposed at all.

4. Do not adjust the heat

grilled fish, heat
grilled fish, heat

I repeat myself: fish is delicate and requires sweet and respectful cooking. The rules are: never too hot embers, high grill and, if possible, indirect cooking, with touches of charcoal on one side and the pieces to be cooked on the other, which feel the heat without receiving it violently.

Also, don't forget that most grilling fish are essentially the fattest, and the fat from burnt fish takes on a distinctive, uninviting taste and smell.

That said, I find myself better with grilling, that is, in the open, than with the barbecue, with the lid on. If it is true that the latter spreads the heat evenly, it is also true that the fish have quick times and you would not have time to put down the yoke that you should already lift it, with the risk of finding the meat overcooked.

The only advantage of the lid: to limit the scents. To be considered in case of intolerant neighbors.

But, if you use it, be careful. And try to reserve it only for large sizes, crustaceans, cones.

5. Eat on the tip of a fork

fish, cut
fish, cut

This really is my favorite mistake. Or, rather, the most hated. A yardstick to understand who I invited to my barbecue.

Those who refuse to suck shrimp heads, shell carapaces, pick bones, find snapper cheek, retrieve the tender pulp stuck to the tail… well, they are not worthy to sit at my table.

Probably, they are the same ones who leave aside the Florentine bone and do not gnaw on the pork or lamb ribs: people who do not know how to enjoy life and good food.

The barbecue is not for beautiful souls, but for the voracious. So, don't be afraid to get your fingers dirty. You can always lick them afterwards.

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