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The Absolute Best Type of Fish to Grill, According to a Fishmonger

Food52 logo Food52 8/14/2018 Valerio Farris
a fish in a cage: How to Grill a Whole Fish © Provided by Food52 How to Grill a Whole Fish

My favorite summer get-together isn’t at the beach or by a pool. Heck, it doesn’t even involve people. Rather, I’m a sucker for when foods, specifically fish, get together with a smoky, hot grill—it’s a summertime match made in heaven. The grill gives your fish just the heat it deserves to get it tender, flaky, and with brilliantly crispy skin. A fish on the grill is truly a summer triumph.

But grilling fish can be daunting. What's the right kind? How and for how long should I cook it? What flavors go best with what type of fish? Where to begin?

To find out, I reached out to the folks at the Lobster Place Seafood Market, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market. They run a seafood store counter, doling out some of the freshest fish in the neighborhood—and the city. Plus, they’ve got a little restaurant, Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar, in the spot as well.

I spoke with Dave Seigal, Cull & Pistol's executive chef, about the fish he’s paying attention to this August. He recommends firm, lean fish that will hold up sturdily on the grill. Here’s what he's throwing down these days:

“We like to grill whole black sea bass in summer time—we currently have it on the Cull & Pistol menu. We do it Thai-style, brushed with a tamarind glaze, and topped with a fresh salad of coconut meat, cilantro, mint, Thai basil, cucumbers and crushed peanuts. This same prep works for other local fish, too, such as porgies.

We are working on another grilled fish for the late summer/fall menu, which is a whole Dover sole that is grilled, then served with our take on a traditional meuniere sauce (brown butter, capers, parsley, lemon juice). We’ll add some late-season tomatoes to it as well.

And then, of course, you can never go wrong with a whole grilled lobster—split, charred, and basted with a flavored herb butter.”

Regardless of what kind you pick, when ordering from a fishmonger or counter, go ahead and ask them to scale and gut the fish. That'll make your life easier. When you're ready to cook, all you have to do is rinse the fish off and pat it dry. Some slashes along the side will make sure the meat cooks evenly and quickly.

RELATED VIDEO: Dinner Reinvented - How to Grill Fish Perfectly Every Time (via The Food Channel)

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