lundi 12 mai 2008

Whole Grilled Fish

Temperatures have soared to 23°C in the daytime. The weather has been beautiful and sunny for a couple of weeks now in the SaarLorLux region. Everyone is wearing summer clothing. Last April and early May were like this too but then it turned cold, wet and miserable for most of the summer so we are taking advantage while we can. It stays light until 9:00 p.m. or so in the evenings and doesn’t cool off too much making for the perfect barbecue conditions

Canadians love to barbecue and eat outdoors - the season is short but that is probably what makes it so special. My Dad had a charcoal grill (barbecuing was a man’s domain after all - another reason it may have been popular as the mother’s got the night off from slaving over a hot stove). We had one of the simple round open ones and my Dad taught us how to pile the charcoal to get it started and to spread out the white hot charcoal when it was ready to cook over. When I left home, I bought a cast iron hibachi that served me very well for several years. It was ideal for grilling small quantities. In Paris, with nowhere for a barbecue, I had to make do with using my Le Creuset grill pan under the broiler. I used it many times for grilling “pavé de saumon” and steak. I would preheat the cast iron grill then add the meat or fish and replace the grill under the broiler. This way it cooks from both top and bottom. Convenient but not as exciting as an outdoor barbecue.

Here in Nittel, my friends burn wood in their brick barbecue pit. Wood gives a better flavour to the food but does require more skill to get it started, keep it going and have it last long enough to cook over. My favourite type of barbecue is a gas grill. In Canada, I had a large gas barbecue with a BTU thatallowed for winter grilling. I had a large patio however it was somewhat under equipped with lighting to permit winter grilling. These are great for parties but just remember to check that there is lots of gas in the tank so that you won’t run out half way though. It has been years since I grilled a whole fish on the barbecue. My very attempt at grilling fish was a salmon that I caught out fishing with my family in Victoria, British Columbia. My dad cleaned and scaled, froze and packaged it for my flight back to Edmonton, Alberta. As near as I remember, I stuffed it with lemon slices and herbs, wrapped it in foil and placed it on our hibachi. The neighbourhood cats were intrigued but the fish managed to escape their curiosity and made it to our plates unscathed. Delicious!One taste of grilled huachinango (red snapper) in Cancun and I fell in love with this fish. The lime flavour was so perfect, my friends and I were licking our fingers after picking the bones clean to make sure that we got every possible morsel. I have grilled it in Canada and it was good but not quite as good as the Mexican one. Happy Grilling!!!
Preheat the grill.Rinse the cleaned and scaled whole fish (use salmon, trout, red snapper, bass, sardines or sea bream). Pat dry (wet fish will tend to stick to the grill)Fill the cavity with lemon slices and fennel fronds or sprigs of other fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, rosemary, tarragon or thyme (or a mixture of these.
Cut small slits in the skin on both sides and rub with olive oil When grill is hot, throw on the fish and cook for approximately 10 minutes* per 2.5 cm (1”) of its thickest point. Turn the fish after 5 minutes. Be patient and don’t keep moving the fish around - this will cause it to stick. To test for doneness - press the tines of a fork into the thickest part of the fish - it is ready to remove from the grill when it hasslightly opaque flesh and milky white juice. The fish will continue to cook for about 5 minutes after it is removed from the grill

*Guideline only - this will vary depending on temperature,type of fish, type of grill, etc.

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