Blackfish Chef Chip Roman featured in Courier Post

Posted on Wednesday, June 10, 2009

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smalllogoFish done right on the grill

Correct prep makes for tasty seafood

Grilling fish can make even the most experienced grillmeister feel like he’s swimming upstream.

The grill is too hot or it’s not hot enough. The fish sticks, it flakes, it’s not done, it’s burnt or it falls through the grill onto the coals.

It’s the kind of fish story that makes you want to eat red meat. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Grilling fish is an ideal way to sear in juices and capture the true flavor of seafood at its best. It just takes a little practice to get it right.

The benefits extend beyond all the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. You also keep the kitchen cool, a huge benefit on swampy, humid days. And grilling is quick. Get the prep down, and you can be grill-to-table in less than an hour, no sweat.

David Hodges, a Collingswood teacher, loves the smoky flavor he gets on his Weber kettle grill, which he stocks with hardwood chunks.

“Fish cooks really fast and grilling adds terrific flavor,” says Hodges, whose fish of choice is tuna, salmon and bluefish, with shrimp kebobs thrown in for variety.

“I guess the one intimidating thing about grilling fish is that it has two important sides and burgers don’t. A burger won’t stick and fall apart, but if you turn the flesh side of the fish toward the heat, the whole thing can fall apart if you’re not careful.”

Hodges likes to start flesh side down, then flip to the skin side and finish the job. As for his prep, he keeps it simple.

“I like dry rubs, usually a Cajun spice mix,” he explains. “And always start with a cold grill over a hot fire; if the grill is super hot, the fish will always stick.”

Choosing the right fish is key, says Chip Roman, chef/owner of Blackfish in Stone Harbor, formerly Henny’s.

“You want something dense, that doesn’t fall apart easily,” he explains. “That would rule out flounder, haddock, cod. Steak types of fish, fish with a good oil content, work great, like swordfish, tuna, mahi mahi, halibut and salmon.”

Another way to cook fish on the grill is en papillote (pah-pee-YOHT) style, advises Rich Vellante, executive chef for Legal Seafood, the family-owned Boston-based seafooder with more than 30 locations in the Northeast. This is the French term for cooking anything inside parchment paper. As the food bakes, it lets off steam and is cooked from within. MORE…

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