Yellowtail is often mistaken for a type of tuna. This delicate fish is a member of the jack family, which includes the pompano and amberjack fish. Yellowtail fish has a mild, sweet flavor with a firm texture. The majority of yellowtail fish are raised on fish farms in Japan and imported as frozen fillets. The Japanese call this fish hamachi and use it regularly in sushi. Its delicate flavor and firm texture make yellowtail perfect for grilling.
Choose fillets that are cut into 8- to 10-ounce servings with the skin still intact on one side. When you go to buy your fish, ensure you are buying from a federally certified seafood dealer. Do not purchase fish with a strong, foul odor, as fresh or frozen yellowtail typically exudes no odor or a minimal fish smell. If your fish is prepackaged, make sure the wrapping is tight and has no puncture marks. Loose wrapping or puncture holes in the container can expose the fish to oxygen and harmful pathogens. If you are not grilling your fish immediately after purchase, you can refrigerate fresh yellowtail up to three days or freeze up to three months, advises Clemson Cooperative Extension.
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Seasoning and Marinades
Yellowtail is best accompanied by simple seasonings and light marinades, as you do not want to conceal the freshness of the fish. Some light seasoning and marinade mixes include olive oil, lemon, salt and black pepper. You may also add butter, garlic, your favorite salt seasoning, chives, scallions, mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes to the marinade. If you would like to add an Asian flair to the yellowtail, add soy sauce or ginger to the mix. Marinate the yellowtail in the refrigerator, not on your counter, to prevent bacteria growth.
Timing and Technique
Yellowtail cooks fairly quickly, so acing your technique and timing to prevent overcooking is paramount. Grill yellowtail fillets over a medium-fire grill. Place the fillets directly on the grill with the skin side facing up. You can add a piece of wooden plank to the grill for additional flavoring. Grill for five to seven minutes or until the skin of the fish has a golden crust. Turn the fish over and grill for another five to seven minutes. The internal temperature of your fish should reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
This grilled fish is best served with light sides, such as those with citrus flavors, greens or vegetables. A water chestnut relish containing scallions, mandarin oranges or lemon will enhance the naturally sweet flavors of the fish. However, the fish may also be served over a bed of greens and accompanied by a side of marinade. Pairing this fish with light, crisp flavors will augment, not mask, the fresh taste of the fish.
- The Thrill of the Grill; Christopher Schlesinger
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Safe Handling of Seafood
- The CBS Interactive Business Network Resource Library: Sorry, Charlie: Yellowtail Is Not Tuna, but It Is Still Popular on Many Menus
- Fish and Shellfish, Grilled and Smoked: 300 Flavor-Filled Recipes, Plus Really Good Sauces, Marinades, Rubs, and Sides; Karen Adler and Judith Fertig