How to grill fish and how to grill sardines in Portugal

Grilled fish is one of the healthiest and most delicious foods you can prepare for yourself. Unfortunately, fish is well known difficult to grill. But don’t panic! That’s why we’re here to help. If you are uncertain about putting fish on your grill, don’t worry, we’re going to make it easy. Read on to learn how to cook fish for the best results!

You should probably know that Portuguese sardines and cod are very popular and loved by the Portuguese here in Algarve. We have become fish lovers ourselves, and we are ready to explain how to grill the most delicious fish.

Enjoy our how to grill fish guide and let us know in the comments if these ideas were useful to you!

Is grilled fish healthy?

Yes, and it’s also very nutritional. We know fish might not be your first choice for a summer barbecue. However, when you learn about its health benefits, you’ll soon add it to your favourites list.

Cooking methods have a significant impact on the quality of food you consume. In this regard, grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook fish. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.

✔️ We all know that fish is high in protein and low in fat. But it’s also loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, which help maintain heart health by lowering blood pressure.

✔️ Some studies even show that Omegas 3 acids also are known to be beneficial to healthy brain function and development.

✔️ Furthermore, they can protect against cancer, arthritis, depression, and dementia.

✔️ Grilled meats have a reduced fat content. This is because the fat drips off as the food cooks. It results in healthier meals and makes it easier to manage a low-fat diet. Grilled foods also have lower calorie content than fried foods. This means that you can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes by grilling fish instead of the more prevalent alternatives.

What is the best way to grill fish?

Cooking fish can be stressful for beginners. It seems fragile and delicate. However, the easiest method of all is to grill your fish on a plank. A plank is simply a slab of wood that you need to soak for a couple of hours, and then, you should lay it on the hot grill grate and place the fish on top. This cooking method is super simple because you don’t even need to turn the fish, and the result is a juicy, flavourful fish. Keep reading to learn more about how to grill fish on a plank!

Moreover, there are several methods to grill fish that lead to great results. Depend on the fish you choose; you can smoke it or cook on direct or indirect heat.

🔥 Advice from BBQ’s Algarve Fish that is less than 1/2 inch thick does not require turning when cooking.

Fish such as tuna, salmon, halibut, and swordfish, whose texture is more like beef or pork, can be grilled directly on the grate. On the other hand, more delicate fish, such as tilapia, sole, and flounder, sometimes fare better when grilled in a foil packet or grill basket.

How do you grill fish without drying it out?

If you’ve ever pulled a fish from the grill too soon only to have it stick, tear, and flake apart, then you know that grilling fish can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

🔥 Advice from BBQ’s Algarve Fish fillets need to cook hot and fast, over direct heat; that means at 400° to 450°, for 7 to 10 minutes. Same thing for small whole fish, like sardines. Cook them too slow, and you risk drying them out.

🚨 Many recipes say that fish is done when it flakes easily, but this is actually the point at which fish is overcooked and dry. Instead, strive to remove the fish from the grill when it just starts to flake, not when it flakes easily.

What temperature should fish be grilled at?

As we mentioned above, around 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit would be a good temperature to grill fish. The required cooking temperature and the method of grilling (direct, indirect, or a combination) depends on the size of the fish or the pieces. It is important to cook the fish to its proper doneness but not to overcook.

how to use a grill basket
A grill basket is an excelent tool to avoid fish from sticking to the grill.

What should I season fish with?

You can season and add toppings to your fish so that no matter how you cook it, it will taste delicious. However, if you are sticking to a more straightforward preparation, add salt, pepper, lemon, and a sprinkling of your favourite herbs.

How do you cook fish on a gas grill?

  1. Select the fish. Fish with hearty flesh is best suited for grilling because it can stand up to the high heat of the grates. Some of the fish that cook well on the grill include salmon, tuna, cod and snapper.
  2. Prepare your grill. Be sure that your grill grate is clean and slightly oiled. Heat the grill to a high temperature, around 400°F.
  3. Season your fish. Get creative with your favourite flavour combinations. As we mentioned above, you can go simple by just seasoning with salt, pepper and a slice of lemon. You can also spice things up by marinating the fish in your favourite dressing, such as soy sauce or marinade.
  4. It’s grilling time. Once fish is on the grill, avoid moving the fillets around – Remember fish’s skin is very delicate. Let the fish sear over high heat to caramelise with grill marks. If it seems that one area of the grill is too warm, move the fish to the cooler side. Also, remember to leave the grill lid down to keep heat in. Cook fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.

More tips for grilling fish at home with great results

Leave the skin on and grill fish fillets skin side down: The skin will not only turn crispy, but it will also protect the fish from overcooking. Fillets should start skin side down and then turn them halfway through. A long, thin grill spatula will help you quickly get under delicate fillets and avoid breaking off pieces. On the other hand, you don’t need to cook the fish on the flesh side if you keep the grill lid down; hot air circulating over the fish cooks the top.

Clean the cooking grate of your BBQ. Charred bits of food will not only impart unpleasant flavours but make your fish stick, too. Use a stiff-bristled wire grill brush to scrub the grate clean. This is easier when the grill it’s heated.

Check for doneness. To check the fish for doneness, use the tip of a sharp knife and cut through the thickest part of the fillet. If the fish has been properly cooked, the meat will appear opaque but will still be moist. Some varieties of fish contain more fat, such as salmon or tuna, which can be cooked until opaque on the outside while remaining somewhat translucent on the inside.

Use a grill basket. This equipment makes grilling fish, especially smaller pieces, considerably easier when cooking it and when it comes time to clean up. Be sure to spray or brush the basket with oil to prevent sticking. Learn more about how to use a grill basket for cooking fish or veggies.

How do you grill fish on a plank?

We already created a tutorial on how to use a grilling plank. If you want a simpler explanation, read the following 6 steps:

  1. Soak it. Soak the plank in warm water for up to 1 or 2 hours before cooking, keeping it submerged. #BBQTip: Soak it in juice, apple cider vinegar, or even wine for added flavour.
  2. Preheat your grill. Heat your grill to 350 degrees F or medium heat
  3. Place seasoned food on the plank. It’s better if you fully cover the plank with food. This helps to avoid flare-ups.
  4. Place plank on preheated grill. Carefully transfer the plank to the grill over direct heat—cover and cook for 10 minutes. Move the plank with the fish over to indirect heat (the cooler part of the grill), cover and cook for around 10 more minutes. Keep the grill lid closed while cooking, and remember never to leave it unattended.
  5. Cook food as you wish. Cooking times will vary. Discard the plank after use.
  6. Serve and enjoy! For a beautiful presentation, serve your food directly on the plank. Just make sure the charred bottom doesn’t dirty your grandmother’s linen tablecloth.
Broil-King-Cedar-Plank-Salmon
Grilling salmon on a plank is one the most delicious ways to eat this fish

As the fish cooks and the plank heats, this moisture rises out of the plank and pulls the characteristic flavours of wood with it. This essentially infuses the fish with a fresh wood flavour and allows the fish to gently steam as the plank acts as a barrier between it and the heat source.

🔥 Advice from BBQ’s Algarve. Remember that there is no need to flip the fish. Plank cooking is indirect because the food is insulated from the direct heat.

What is the 10-minute rule for cooking fish?

The 10-Minute Rule or Canadian Cooking Method is one way to cook fish by conventional methods, including grilling, broiling, steaming, sautéing, microwaving, planking or baking (400F to 450F).

First posted by the Canadian Department of Fisheries in its 1959 “Canadian Fish Cook Book,” this method was a way for the department to demystify the process of cooking fish and, hopefully, sell more fish.

Here is how to use the 10 Minute Rule:

  • Measure the seafood product at its thickest point. If the fish is stuffed or rolled, measure it after stuffing or rolling.
  • At 450ºF, cook for 10 minutes per inch thickness of the fish, turning the fish halfway through the cooking time. For example, a 1-inch fish filet should be cooked 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. Pieces of fish less than half an inch thick do not have to be turned over.
  • Add 5 minutes to the total cooking time if you cook the fish in foil or if the fish is cooked in a sauce.

The 10-minute rule has its exceptions, but overall, it’s a pretty good guideline. Of course, after you use it a few times, you’ll get a feel for cooking any fish perfectly and won’t have to follow the rule to the letter.

Which fish is best for BBQ?

When choosing a fish for grilling, it’s essential to consider how firm or sturdy it is. Delicate fish like sole, tilapia, or flounder don’t fare so well on the open flame. They’re more likely to become flakey, break apart or fall through the grates.

On the other hand, firm, robust fish stand up best to barbecuing. Halibut, monkfish, sardines and swordfish are all good candidates. More delicate types of fish such as cod can easily flake and fall through the grill, although with a bit of prep and care when cooking, you can barbecue any fish.

To keep your seafood summer in full swing, here are a few of our picks for the best fish to grill this summer:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Swordfish
  • Red snapper
  • Mahi mahi
  • Cod

The best fish recipes we have published in our blog:

We hope you enjoy them!

3 must-have fish tools for grilling

The best part about grilling fish is that it is easy, and there are some great tools to assist you in grilling that perfect piece of fish.

Cedar plank. Great for cooking the most delicious salmon dish or any fish. Grab your favourite piece of fish, marinate it and stick it on the plank and onto the grill grates at direct medium heat and let the grill and cedar plank do the rest. About 15 minutes later, you have a great, flavorful piece of fish. We are sure you will love its simplicity and delicious flavours!

Grill basket. A stainless steel grill basket is another great option for grilling fish, so you can keep your marinade on the fish and prevent your piece from flaking or sticking to the grill grates. Perfect results also come from the addition of excellent products!

Metal spatula. Flipping fish is easier when you have a spatula specifically designed for the task! A fish turner will allow you to gently put your fish filet on and off the grill with great control and keeping it in one piece while turning it. With this tool, you can easily transfer the fish from the grill right to your plate to enjoy.


Use fish next time you’re grilling, and enjoy the light and healthy flavour that you’ve been missing out on. Whether you’re trying to reduce the fat in your diet or try something new, fish is an ingredient that you shouldn’t ignore. Practice makes perfect, and cooking fish properly is all in the timing!

Do you want to check out the best equipment on how to grill fish in any form? Visit our showroom in Almancil, Algarve or contact us for more information.

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