A bank hol weekend coming up, and weather permitting, or even weather not making any damn bit of difference, you might decide to fire up the coals for a bit of a barbecue. Fish makes a healthy and tasty change from the usual burgers and bangers. So here’s a few tips on the low down of cooking fish over the coals.
For safety’s sake, make sure the bars of the barbecue are thorouhgly clean and have not been used for cooking meat products.
The coals should be white hot with no leaping flames. If you hold your hand over the grill you should be able to feel the heat straight away – it should be too hot to keep your hand there.
It’s best to oil fish before you barbecue, to prevent oil spills on the coals which will cause flames that will burn the fish on the outside.
Whole fish work best on the barbecue. Choose mackerel or small hake, herrings or sardines for superb flavour.
Ask your friendly fishmonger to de-scale and remove the guts. You can also ask him to remove heads and tails if you don’t like those left on.
Make three slashes on either side of the fish without cutting right through to the bone. This allows heat to penetrate and also any flavourings you use to infuse into the flesh.
Stuff the cavity of the fish with lemon or lime slices and fresh herbs.
Oriental seasonings like soy, ginger, garlic and chilli work well with barbecued fish. You can make a marinade of these to soak the fish in before cooking.
Whole fish are cooked when the flesh comes away from the backbone easily when pierced with the point of a knife.
A whole side of salmon can be cooked on the barbecue. Flesh side down first to seal then skin side down to crisp up.
Sardines are perfect for the barbie – the Spanish and Portuguese love them cooked with herbs and seasoning and served with lemon juice squeezed over. You can eat the bones of whole sardines because they are fine and easy to digest.
A classic sauce like Salsa Verde or Sauce Verte is made with fresh herbs, garlic and lemon juice with the optional additions of anchovies, capers, Dijon mustard and hard boiled egg yolk. Parlsey is the main herb but you can mix, especially if you have a prolific herb patch in the garden.
Best fish barbecue ever is when you go to the sea to catch your own fish, then cook them on the barbie on the beach! Straight from the sea to the coals to the plate!