Grilling fish on the grill isn't complicated, but it does require some care to prevent overcooking or sticking. Grilled red snapper makes a delicious feast that's easy to prepare, as long as you follow smart strategies.
Techniques for Grilling Fish
If you have access to a gas grill, use that to prepare your fish, instead of a charcoal grill. You get complete control over the temperature when you use gas, which is essential for perfectly-grilled red snapper. You may also choose to use a grill pan on the stove top.
Before starting to grill the snapper, ensure that the cooking grate is clean. This prevents sticking. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends you clean the grates according to the manufacturer's instructions. Alternatively, use a grill basket to keep the fish from falling through the grates.
Double check that the burner openings on gas grills are clear of deposits. Use a grill brush to scrub off any bits of previous items, and remove any excess bits of sauce sticking to the grill.
Read more: Which is Better: Wild-Caught or Farmed Fish?
Any item you grill, including fish, must be coated with some type of oil or fat before you put it on the grill, explains the Art Institutes. This step is another absolute when it comes to preventing sticking. You may also choose to also coat the grill with a little oil. Use canola oil, grapeseed oil, or another neutral-tasting oil, with a high smoke point, for grilled red snapper.
Grill red snapper with the lid down. This contains the heat, so your fillets or whole fish cook through.
Grilled Snapper Fillet
When preparing snapper fillets, coat them generously in oil and seasonings. Avoid using sugary basting sauces, or whole spices and herbs that will burn easily, recommends Utah State University. Ground spices, such as garlic and onion powder, chili powder, paprika, and pepper are ideal.
Place the fish on direct, high heat for just 1 or 2 minutes, to sear the outside and make desirable grill marks. Then move the fillets to an area of the grill with indirect heat, and close the lid. Aim for about 8 minutes per side, for every inch of thickness. Make sure the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit before serving, to prevent foodborne illness.
When flipping fillets, use a delicate hand, and go slowly. If you have a fish spatula, which is a flexible tool with a thin blade, angles and widely spaced tines, then use it. This kitchen device is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to successfully flipping grilled fish fillets.
Read more: Top 10 Healthy Fish to Eat
Grilled Snapper Whole
A whole grilled fish makes for a dramatic presentation, and might seem intimidating to prepare, but it's not much more complicated than fillets. Grilled whole snapper just requires a slightly different approach than grilling the fish in pieces.
You should definitely coat the whole fish with a fat, such as oil, or even mayonnaise, before placing it on the grill. Just like with fillets, the oil prevents sticking. You may also generously oil the grates themselves, to further prevent the snapper from sticking, crumbling, and falling into the fire.
Set up your grill with a hot zone and a cool zone. Grilled whole snapper benefits from spending all of its cook time in the cooler zone. Place the oiled, seasoned fish on the grill, and close the lid. When you flip the fish, use two fish spatulas, and enter from either side, so it's cradled as you lift it up and flip.
Cook for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. You want it to reach the 145 F mark, but should be able to visually determine when it's cooked through.
The fish is done when the flesh flakes easily, and the meat looks opaque. Before serving, let a whole grilled snapper rest for about 5 minutes, so the juices can settle. Once you remove the fish from the grill, keep it warm to prevent bacteria from forming, warns the USDA.
Grilled snapper is great on its own with a little lemon. It also makes a great substitute for the bass in this recipe for Hanoi Grilled Tumeric Fish with Dill and Onion from LIVESTRONG.com.
- USDA: "Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart"
- USDA: "Eat fish! Which Fish? That Fish! Go Fish!"
- USDA: "Grilling and Food Safety"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Fire UP the Barbecue"
- Art Institutes: "7 Cooking Methods Every Chef Should Master"
- Utah State University: "Grilling and Broiling"
- Fresh From Florida: "Snapper Recipes"
- Choose My Plate: "Grilled Fish Tacos"