When it comes to grilling, I tend to fall into cycles. There's the red meat month, the you're-not-supposed-to-grill-that month, and quite often, the fish month. It looks like I'm in the fish month.
I gravitate towards grilling fish because it is fast and easy. If you thought I was going to mention "healthy", you know that typically isn't one of my decision points!
I find some people get freaked out by grilling fish for a number of reasons, but most often because of issues with the flesh sticking to the grill grates. To compensate, some (READ: My Dad), deploy an elaborate system of grill/wire/rack/basket systems to avoid having fish apocalypse on the grill surface. I reject these grill apparatus and use what nature intended to keep my grill grates clean, the fish's scaly skin.
My go-to whole fish to grill is Rainbow Trout. I say "go-to" only because it is what I can dependably find at my local fishmonger.
Hickory Grilled Trout with Lemon & Rosemary
1 Rainbow Trout (Mine was about a pound)
6 thin lemon slices
1 sprig of rosemary
1. Prep your grill for direct medium heat.
2. Prep Mr. Trout. The first order of business is to get rid of the fins. With a pair of scissors cut off all of the fins, but leave the tail and of course, the head.
3. In the cavity of the trout, drizzle some olive oil, and stuff with the lemon wedges and rosemary. Then, brush the skin of the fish with additional olive oil.
4. With Mr. Trout dressed and ready for action, throw some hickory chunks on your hot coals. This will be a fast cook, so there is no reason to soak the chunks ahead of time, just drop them in.
5. Once the chunks start to burn, you are ready to grill. Now grilling a whole fish is a lot easier than grilling a skinless filet. Regardless, the key to not leaving half of your dinner on the grates is to oil them...well. Typically, I say either oil the grates, or your food. When grilling fish, I say oil both.
6. Place your fish directly over the coals. For a one pound fish, grill for approximately 15 minutes, flipping the fish over every 5 minutes or so. Doing so provides even cooking to both sides. The fish is done when the flesh begins to flake. Dom't worry, you can see the flesh peaking out from under the skin. Also, when you push down on the skin, the cooked flesh should feel squishy.
Now grilling a whole fish over direct heat is no where near as pretty as grilling a whole fish over indirect heat. In fact, direct grilling a whole fish can be downright gruesome if exploding eyeballs isn't your thing. However, don't let fish abuse get you down. That charred body is hiding some deeeeelicous meat!
INTERMISSION: Tonight's beer of choice is Southern Tier's 2XIPA. I've enjoyed it's hop character so much, I bought a second six pack over the weekend.
7. Once the fish is done, move to a cutting board. To get rid of the nasty bits and savor the good, peel off the skin on one side of the fish.
8. Slide a spoon down the backbone of the fish, under the flesh, to pull the flesh from the carcass.
Trout isn't overly dense, so it will probably break apart a little. Don't cry, just set the flesh aside.
9. With the flesh removed from one side of the fish, again slide your spoon along the backbone, on the underside, to separate the flesh. Then, gently pull up the tail to remove the skeleton from the flesh.
10. Once done, hold it up and admire your dissection skills. My high school biology teacher would be proud.
11. Remove the skin from the remaining piece of flesh and serve!
The hickory smoke, lemon, and rosemary really work well together. Served with some grilled fennel rings, this turned out to be not only fast and easy, but healthy too. The healthy part, I can assure you, was totally not planned for.