A Guide to Grilling Fish from Chef Charles Pejeau
Ok all you meat lovers, we like summer steaks and barbecue as much as the next gent, but sometimes we need a little change, and there is nothing like a grilled fish (in tacos, with rice, as burgers) on a sweltering summer evening.
For expert fish tips we turn to Executive Chef Charles Pejeau who attended the Florida Culinary Institute and has honed his culinary skills at prestigious restaurants in South Florida. Among them are Robert Irvine’s E.A.T. on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and the award-winning Inn at Palmetto Bluff which was ranked #1 in the United States during his tenure there.
Chef Pejeau officially joined the Charbar Co. team in July of 2012, and began working on the culinary offering and concept launch. Since opening Charbar Co, Pejeau and the culinary team have won every regional “Best Burger” award, and were featured in Southern Living Magazine as “Best of the South.”
Fish is one of Chef Charles Pejeau’s favorite things to grill when summer rolls around – especially with his access to fresh catches from the waters surrounding his hometown of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. When he’s not in the kitchen at CharBar Co., you can find Charles cooking with his family at home.
Here Pejeau provides a few of his top tips and tricks for grilling fish.
Grill over charcoal and use high heat:
- Charles prefers a charcoal grill over a gas grill – and he avoids lighter fluid by using a charcoal chimney starter.
- Cooking fish over high heat is essential. And Charles says – don’t be afraid to undercook fish, for undercooked fish is better than overcooked fish.
Don’t forget to add flavor:
Charles suggests adding some extra flavor to grilled fish with these tricks and techniques:
- Because most fish filets are lean and light on fat content, Charles recommends brushing on extra virgin olive oil or butter before grilling. This will add flavor and prevent the fish from sticking to the grill.
- Another butter tip? After pulling fish from the grill, put cold butter on top, and let it melt for added flavor (and to prevent any possible dryness)
- Charles marinates almost everything before it hits the grill. He provided his personal fish marinade recipe below – which tastes great on whitefish, shrimp, and scallops especially.
- Short on time? Charles recommends tossing your fish in citrus zest or lemon juice, and adding a few dashes of salt and pepper. This simple trick makes a flavorful filet.
- For another flavor enhancement while grilling, Charles recommends using woodchips, which infuse fish and other proteins with a smoky flavor. His favorites are hickory, applewood, and mesquite.
Add a simple side dish:
Charles’ favorite side (that complements almost any fish) is a homemade couscous salad. He blends couscous, goat cheese (smoked if you can find it), and grilled veggies that have been tossed in extra virgin olive oil or butter before they hit the grill. Just cook the vegetables until they’re done, and toss all three ingredients together. Put in the refrigerator to chill before serving.
Charles’ Shrimp and Fish Marinade:
2T olive oil
2T of roasted garlic purée
half the zest of a lemon and all the juice
1T of chopped parsley
1 T kosher salt
1t smoked paprika or piment espelette
Marinate 1-2 hours.