Summer solstice has arrived, and that means one thing for some people: grilling season. People who do not cook all winter long are pulling out the spatulas and tongs, debating charcoal and direct vs indirect heat, and mainly standing manly over large slabs of meat on a primal flame. I have to admit I’ve always been a little intimidating by grilling, my oven has an on/off button and a specific temperature, while the grill has flames that can flash up and die down and where cooking times are based on instinct and experience and not a kitchen timer. However, we’ve got a pretty nice grill and a great backyard and I’ve been slowly trying to teach myself those grilling instincts honed with experience.
When it comes to fish, I usually prefer to grill a whole fish, mainly because I think it’s one of the best simple meals out there, but also because fish fillets can easily fall apart on the grill. However, if you choose the right firm-fleshed fish, I’ve found grilled fish kebobs make an excellent and very quick dinner. You can always add whatever vegetables you’d like to the kebabs, but I live for those grilled cherry tomatoes, charred on the outside and slightly sweet inside.
But most importantly, as I’ve told you before, is how you serve the kebabs. Don’t just plop those pieces of fish down all alone, place them over flatbreads and give them a good drizzling of sauce and dose of chopped herbs. My kebabs are of the Middle Eastern variety, that is marinated in a bit of lemon and olive oil and served with a classic yogurt sauce. However, you can always experiment with different sauces, a romesco sauce or tarator sauce, or one made with sour cream and herbs.
I'm not sure if I'm a grill fanatic like some out there, but this may just be the summer I catch the grilling bug, so if you have tips, grilling experiences, or any of those instincts I'm looking to hone, please send them this way.
Grilled Fish Kebabs
There are a couple tricks to making good fish kebabs: choose a firm fleshed fish that won't fall apart on the grill, don't try to move them around too much, and don't overcook them. I make a sauce by stirring together plain yogurt seasoned with a little lemon zest, garlic, salt, and a bunch of fresh chopped mint.
1 lb firm fleshed fish such as halibut or mahi-mahi
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, smashed in a mortar and pestle or crushed with a fork
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes or other vegetables
flatbread or pita bread
yogurt sauce (see header)
a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
1. Using a very sharp knife, cut fish into kebab sized cubes, try to cut along the grain of the fillet so that the cubes will stay together and not fall or flake apart. Combine lemon juice, smashed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add fish pieces and let sit 15-20 minutes.
2. Preheat your grill to very hot. Place your flat breads on a platter and set aside. Thread fish cubes and cherry tomatoes onto skewers. Scrub down your grill and spray with a bit of olive oil or non-stick spray (caution, grill will flare). Place kebabs on grill and let cook without moving until the flesh appears opaque and firm. Slide a spatula under the kebabs and turn to cook on the other side, only about 15-30 seconds, until the fish is cooked through but not overly flaky or dry.
3. Remove kebabs to the platter and place over flatbreads and slide out the skewers. Drizzle yogurt sauce over top. Sprinkle chopped parsley over and serve immediately.