How to Grill Fish Like a Seafood Chef

how to grill fish

We love us some red meat at The Manual, but we also love unencumbered coronary arteries. That’s why we urge our readers to switch things up and slap some fish on the grill this summer. As it turns out, this lean protein lends itself to grilling rather well, but requires a somewhat practiced hand. For some expert tips on how to grill fish, we turned to David Ezelle, Executive Chef of RingSide Fish House in Portland, Oregon.

Fish Grilling Tips

  • Select fish with thicker fillets, like halibut, tuna, swordfish, salmon and mahi mahi. These types of fish tend to stand up to high heat better than more delicate fish (sole, flounder, and other flakey white fish).
  • Make sure the grill is properly cleaned and oiled before placing fish on the grill.
  • Make sure the grill is plenty hot. This can be tested by placing your hand a couple inches above the grill and seeing how long you can keep it there before pulling it away. You should only be able to hold your hand for 3-5 seconds if the grill is properly heated.
  • Resist the urge to move the fish too soon. If you don’t allow enough time for the fish to be seared on the grill, the fish will stick and be more difficult to handle.Seafood Salmon GrilledDSC_8181
  • Using a proper fish spatula (with a wider head) will make it easier to move and flip the fish once it is properly seared. Avoid using meat tongs, as they tend to damage delicate fish.
  • Try using pre-soaked wooden skewers for shrimp and scallops. Soaking the skewers in water before attaching shrimp or scallops will allow the meat to cook without the skewers burning. The skewers will also make it easy to move your shrimp and scallops at the same time.
  • Using cedar planks soaked in water is another good option for grilling. Lightly oil the cedar plank and place the fish on top. Place the cedar plank on the grill and close the lid. The fish will cook this way without any flipping required.
  • If wood is not an option, fish can be wrapped in aluminum foil. Pour a small amount of oil on a piece of foil large enough to wrap the fish. Herbs and other aromatics can be added to the foil for a different flavor profile. Fold up the fish in the foil and place on the grill. The fish will be steamed inside the foil.

Related: Halibut: Healthy, Delicious, and Ridiculously Easy to Cook

General fish grilling tips are all well and good, but sometimes a man needs things spelled out for him. If you’re the kind of fella who likes to follow a recipe, check out this awesome recipe for Grilled Wild King Salmon with Roasted Corn and Summer Chanterelle Salad, also courtesy of Chef David from RingSide Fish House.

Grilled Wild King Salmon with Roasted Corn & Summer Chanterelle Salad

Salmon DSC_2248


  • 6 6-oz. portions of wild salmon
  • 6 ears fresh cleaned corn cut off the cob
  • 1 pint cleaned cherry tomatoes
  • ¾ lb. cleaned fresh chanterelles
  • 1 bunch picked and sliced basil (chiffonade)
  • 4 oz. of your favorite vinaigrette
  • 1 oz. of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the salad:

  • Put corn, tomatoes, and mushrooms in a bowl with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and mix until evenly coated.
  • Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and roast in a 400-degree oven until the corn is lightly brown.
  • Remove baking sheet from the oven and allow it to cool.
  • When cool, place salad in a bowl, mix in vinaigrette, and taste to check seasoning.
  • Reserve the basil and fold it in just before serving.

For the fish:

  • On a preheated, cleaned, and oiled grill, place seasoned salmon fillets directly on the hottest part of the grill.
  • Close the lid on the grill and cook 3 minutes before turning over.
  • Cook for approximately 2 more minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  • Remove from the grill and serve with the corn salad.

Salmon DSC_2271

Thanks to these tips from Chef David, you should have a pretty decent idea of how to grill fish. The next time you experience red meat fatigue (it could happen), look to the sea for your protein. Your guests (and their arteries) will be grateful. If you’re ever in Portland, we strongly recommend that you get a taste of professionally prepared fish at RingSide Fish House.