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Barbecuing Firm Fish

Grilling firm fish requires a temperature gauge in the barbecue lid so that the temperature can be accurately controlled. If the lid doesn’t have a temperature gauge, insert a long–stemmed oven thermometer through a vent on a charcoal grill lid, or into a hole drilled in the lid of your gas grill.

Prepare a medium–hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium (about 450°F). Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Immediately place the fish directly on the rack. The fish should make a sizzling noise. If it does not, remove the fish and increase the heat, then return the fish to the rack.

Whether using a charcoal or gas grill, the first step is to mark the fish. Cook, turning once, for about 2 minutes on each side, until the fish turns a light golden and picks up the pattern of the barbecue grate. For charcoal grills, temporarily remove the grate holding the fish from the barbecue. Push the charcoal to one side, or push the coals into a thin layer around the entire outside area of the barbecue. Immediately return the grate holding the fish to the barbecue. Cover the barbecue with its lid. Adjust the bottom and top vents so that the heat is always maintained in the 300°F to 325°F range.

For gas grills, keep the heat set at about 300°F. If the heat goes above 325 degrees F, turn off one of the burners. If still too hot, turn off all but one of the burners and once the fish as far from the heat source as possible. If the heat is still above 325 degrees F prop the lip open with tongs so that some of the heat is flushed out of the barbecue.

On both charcoal and gas grills, remove the lid every 1–2 minutes. Baste the fish, turn over, baste again, and then cover the barbecue. Repeat the process until the fish is cooked. Transfer to a serving platter or plates and serve at once.

Quick and easy shortcut: Grill the fish, turning once, for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly golden (you’ll need to barbecue flaky fish in a fish grill screen). Transfer the fish to a wire rack placed on a baking sheet and finish cooking the fish in a 300°F oven. The fish will taste as if it has been cooked entirely on the barbecue.