By Lee Tolliver
It’s been a great day on the water and the cooler is full of fish: speckled trout, puppy drum, croaker and spot – maybe even a flounder or two. So what are you going to do with this massive amount of slimy, stinky deliciousness?
Clean your catch and get ready to slap it on the grill.
Sure, there are a lot of ways to cook fish. You can bake, steam or fry it, but all are so very ho-hum, if you ask me. Chefs far too often try to get overly fancy with the catch of the day, and some people obviously like secret sauce on their trout fillet.
I ain’t one of them.
Grilling is how just about everything should be cooked, especially fish. It adds that bit of smokiness that just makes food taste better. So follow this guy’s lead.
Start with a good, clean fillet job. If you don’t know how, find someone who does. I’ve seen people mangle a fillet, and that’s nearly as wasteful as letting the fish rot.
Then get out your favorite seasoning and dry-rub those fillets. A bunch of varieties on the market go well with fish, and all of them are pretty good when used on the grill. I prefer a blackening seasoning put together by some old friends who were kind enough to share the recipe. (I don’t blacken the fish in the traditional sense, in an iron skillet, but I like the taste.)
You’re gonna need a fish grilling basket to keep the fillets from falling apart and onto the coals. Don’t waste even one morsel. I also like to drizzle a little melted butter on the fish while it’s over the heat. (I’m drooling just thinking about it.)
Cook until the meat is white throughout – unless you were lucky enough to bring home some tuna, which should be cooked a little pink in the middle like a medium-rare steak. Don’t overcook your catch; it’d be shame to let it get too dry.
Serve it up with some corn on the cob, potatoes cooked on the grill or whatever your little heart desires. But the fish is supposed to be the centerpiece, so let it shine.
Just make sure you enjoy the bounty all the way from the water to your belly, because there really isn’t anything better than freshly caught fish.
Lee Tolliver, a lifelong angler, covered fishing for The Virginian-Pilot for 43 years.