It has been hot in D.C. Doesn’t really bother me too much on the weekends though. As long as I don’t have to wear work clothes, I could care less about a little sweat. This particular afternoon Kelly and I were in the mood for some grilling.
Grilled fish may be one of my favorite things in the world. It is much easier than you think. Sure, you can do the salmon on cedar planks or swordfish steaks, and as good as those can be, they are just not that interesting to me. Instead, head to the store and buy whatever whole fish they are selling.
This weekend we took a warm drive to River Falls fish market in Potomac. As a side note, I say warm because I wanted to listen to country music for the ride and country music should be listened to outside or windows down whenever possible. Of course this always leads to deep discussion between Kelly and I as to whether we should have the windows down or a/c on.
Back to the topic at hand. The only whole fish they had was some branzino, also called European seabass, a fish that can be found throughout the Mediterranean and as far north as England. If branzino is unavailable many fish mongers will carry whole trout or snapper which works just as well.
Whole fish will often come ungutted and unscaled. Don’t be afraid to ask the fish monger to gut and scale. However, if you are interested in doing it yourself it is very easy. To gut the fish I start with a shallow cut just under it’s head and continue until your reach the pectoral fins (or where you imagine is the start of their tale). After making the cut dig your hand into the gut and pull out all of the goodies. Use a knife to separate any tough spots and keep going until the gut is as clean as you think it should be.
Scaling a fish is just as easy. Simply grab a knife and start scraping with the edge of the knife from head to tail. Warning, this will make a mess.
When you are done with both of these tasks be sure to rinse the fish inside and out with cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
Lastly use your paring knife to cut three or four deep diagonal cuts along the sides of the fish. This will help it cook faster and will make it easer to serve when it is done. We oil our fish and salt it very generously. You can also stuff the cavity with aromatic herbs and citrus if you wish. For this meal I used some leftover cilantro and limes we had laying around.
To grill, just set on the preheated grill. The fish will take about ten to fifteen minutes total depending on the size of the fish. It is important to only flip the fish once. Make sure the one side is done enough to flip. It is very difficult to flip back and finish a prematurely flipped side. No matter how much you oil it, the fish will stick. Don’t fret. Just try you best to save as much skin as possible. It will taste great anyway.
When finished simply place on on a communal platter and everyone can scrape off as much flesh as they want.
Our game plan for this meal is a pretty common one for Kelly and I. Make a salad, drinks, and an entrée that you can share amoung the table. Add a pile of tortillas and you have a mexican summer meal.
We garnish our tacos as simply as possible. A squirt of lime, dash of cilantro, and some red onions. For the red onions, thinly slice the onions and marinate as long as possible in some red wine vinegar. At least 3 hours is best in our experience.
I always feel the sign of a good meal is at the end, there is a bare animal carcass on a plate. Mission accomplished.
This particular meal also included a tomato and watermelon salad.
Let’s not forget about dessert. Grilled sweetcorn.
That was our Saturday meal. What is your favorite lounge around and grill meal? Have any good experiences grilling fish?