How to pull off the best BBQ fish!

How to pull off the best BBQ fish!

The weekend has finally arrived and you’re looking forward to nothing more than kicking back and relaxing. Cooking is not on your list of things to do, but you figure a barbecue with friends can’t be too complicated. Or can it be?

But then you think, how about some BBQ fish?

Sounds good, right?

So here’s our guide on cranking out the best BBQ fish your family and friends have ever experienced!

First things first, make sure your equipment is in good working order

Before you buy your fish and marinade, make sure your grill is in working order. Sounds like teaching your granny to suck eggs, but you’ll never make the best BBQ fish with dodgy equipment.

Check the joints, grill, and other bits and see if they need replacing. Once heated they might just come apart and your cooking adventures could be over even before they’ve begun.

If items need replacing then get down your local BBQ store (likely where you bought the BBQ in the first place).

What’s the best BBQ fish?

In Austalia we have a range of fish which is excellent for cooking on a BBQ. You’ll likely have your own personal preference, but one of these is a good start:

  • Swordfish – a classic fish for BBQs. It’s firm, works well with various marinades, goes great with wine or beer, and most importantly is perfect for getting those stylish grill marks so you can look like a pro.
  • Salmon – a common, easy to get fish which is great for grilling. Renowned for being healthy, it’s easy to cook on a BBQ and really adds colour to the dish.
  • Tuna – often overlooked as a great BBQ fish, tuna steaks are firm, healthy, and great for grill marks.
  • Snapper – if whole fish is your preference, snapper is great to cook with the skin on. Slightly crispy skin with juicy fish inside is a winner.
  • Mahi Mahi – a trickier fish to get right on a BBQ than those previously mentioned, but the flavour is divine when perfected. They tend to overcook easily, so monitor closely and remove from the BBQ as soon as it begins to flake.

Crays or Moreton Bay Bugs are also fantastic for cooking on a BBQ, as are king prawns and other seafoods. Why not add some as a side dish with your fish?

How to pull off the best BBQ fish!
Don’t forget some BBQ prawns as well, mate!

Cooking on gas, or cooking on charcoal?

One of the simplest tips to cooking really good fish is to use charcoal on your grill. Gas fired barbecues are fine, but will not give you the same flavour as a charcoal grill.

The second most important technique is using a lid over your barbecue grill. This helps lock in the heat and flavour, and the fish will cook faster as an even temperature is maintained throughout the grill.

Pro tip: Add wood chips to your grill!

If you’re a savvy griller with experience of charcoal BBQs, try adding aromatic wood chips to your charcoal mix. The aromas add wonderful flavours to your fish, meats, and vegetables, and your BBQ skills will be the talk of the evening.

Oak wood chips work really well for making the best BBQ fish. They work great for pork as well. For most other BBQ meats cherry and apple wood chips go down really well.

Beer or wine?

The beauty of BBQ fish is it goes well with beer or wine. Some fish, like tuna and swordfish, work slightly better with white wine, although whole fish cooked whole on the BBQ like snapper and mahi-mahi work better than you would expect with beer, particularly craft beer – why not pick up an excellent mix of craft beer to really offer your guests the best BBQ?

Have patience and know when to cook

In order to be a master of the grill you need patience.

It takes time to fire up your charcoal, then you must wait for the flames to give way to an ash coating on the coals. The coals must be whitish or grey, with a glow within each mound. This is when the temperature has evening out and just right for cooking your fish.

Keep cooking utensils nearby

Once food on the grill begins to cook it’s very easy for your mind to stray and get lost in conversation, especially when beer is involved. Making the best BBQ fish requires perfect timing – fish cooks much quicker than meat, and it’s very easy to overcook.

Having your utensils close by means you can easily flip the fish, or transfer it once cooked to a serving plate. A minute too long and you may burn your fish.

The same applies to burger patties which have a tendency to go from perfectly cooked to burnt within a blink of an eye. So be armed and ready with the tongs, forks, and clippers you’ll need!

Pièce de résistance – perfecting the marinade

Developing your perfect marinade brings so much enjoyment when making the best BBQ fish for you and your family. A good marinade won’t over dry your fish (or meats), and it should never overpower the flavour of the fish itself.

Cooking the best BBQ fish!
She’s a beaut, mate!

Being a good barbecue chef is not too difficult one you´ve got these basic techniques and skills down. Alongside the technicalities, master these aspects and you´ll be “Lord of the Grill” in no time.


“How to pull off the best BBQ fish!”, written by Terry J.

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