Grilling gives fish great flavor without the need for lots of added cooking fat. But this healthy method for cooking seafood can be stressful if you don't get the technique right.
The problem is that most fish has delicate flesh that tends to stick to the grates. Worse, the fish then falls apart when you try to flip it.
Success comes down to choosing the right fish and knowing how to prepare and maintain your grill.
The easiest fish to grill are the firm varieties that are available in steak form, such as tuna, swordfish and halibut. These fish hold together well and usually can be flipped without falling to pieces. Fish steaks that are an inch or more thick stand up best to the grill.
Other good options include mahi-mahi, salmon and catfish. They are not quite as firm as the others, but they still tolerate grilling.
Keeping the grill grates clean will help minimize sticking. It also is important to oil the grates well and cook the fish over high heat.
For the oiling, do it just before putting the fish on the grill. The easiest way to do this is to fold a paper towel into a small pad, grip it with tongs and either dip it in a bowl of oil or spray it with cooking spray. Rub the grates with the paper towel thoroughly but quickly to keep it from catching fire.
Avoid applying cooking spray directly to the grill, as this can cause a dangerous flare-up.
Specialized cooking grates and fish baskets are available at stores that sell cookware. These can make grilling fish easier, but if you keep your grill squeaky clean, hot and well oiled, you shouldn't have a problem.
This grilled tuna with cilantro-lime marinade is pleasantly tangy and spicy that blends well with the smoky flavors of the grill.
Tuna is easy to grill and can stand up to an acidic marinade such as this one without a change in texture. For convenience you even can prepare the marinade and coat the fish in the morning to grill the same evening.
While tuna is delicious, health officials have been concerned about mercury levels found in this fish and recommend eating it no more than two or three times a month.
Consider serving this marinated grilled tuna with a side of black beans and rice seasoned with grilled onion and a pinch of cinnamon along with a mixed salad topped with slices of orange or grapefruit.
Grilled Tuna With Cilantro-Lime Marinade
Start to finish: 15 minutes, plus at least 15 minutes for marinating
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tuna steaks (about 4 ounces each)
In a shallow bowl or pie plate, combine the lime juice, cilantro, mustard, chili powder, oil, salt and pepper. Stir well. Add the tuna steaks, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 8 hours.
Heat a gas grill to high or prepare a charcoal fire.
Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the grill rack. Grill the tuna steaks until browned on both sides and opaque at the center, about 5 minutes per side.
• Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 202 calories; 74 calories from fat; 8 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 43 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 27 g protein; 1 g fiber; 390 mg sodium.