Grilling Adds Flavor Dimension to Fish

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Grilling season is finally here! It’s one of my favorite cooking techniques for most all types of food, including fish.

Almost any fish can be successfully prepared on the grill, if you take the proper steps to protect it from sticking or tearing. Most recipes call for one or more of the following steps:

  • Marinate the fish with an acid like lemon or lime juice, wine, or vinegar. This helps to firm the flesh a little before the fish goes on the grill.
  • Oil the fish liberally.
  • Leave the skin on if possible. You can always remove it before eating, but some people like to eat skin that gets crisp and crunchy.
  • Use an oiled grill topper grid or hand rack to hold the fish. Hand racks are hinged so that they can close around the fish. They are perfect for delicate or lean fish.
fish on a plate

For this flavorful recipe, we marinate the fish briefly in lemon juice and then in a seasoned yogurt-peanut butter marinade. Great for a firm fish such as mahi-mahi, swordfish or tuna.

Fish Kebabs with Creamy Cilantro Sauce

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds mahi-mahi or swordfish, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup 2% milk plain yogurt

¼ cup peanut butter

1 small jalapeno, minced

1 ½ teaspoon thyme leaves

1 ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds

1 ½ teaspoon ground white pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

8 bamboo skewers

  1. Rinse the fish and dry the cubes well with a paper towel. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix together the yogurt, peanut butter, jalapeno, thyme, fennel, pepper, salt, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, the ginger, and garlic in a bowl to make a marinade.
  3. Remove any excess moisture from the fish cubes and place them in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
  4. Soak the skewers in cool water for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a moderate coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed. Oil your grill topper.
  6. Remove the fish from marinade and thread onto the skewers. Grill the kebabs until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side (8 minutes total). The marinade tends to stick to the grill topper, so it helps to scrape with a metal spatula then use tongs to turn. Serve over rice and top with creamy cilantro sauce.

Creamy Cilantro Sauce

1 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed

¼ cup unsalted cashews

1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

½ jalapeno, halved, seeds and stem removed

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup 2% milk plain yogurt

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Margie Mansure is an extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. As a registered dietitian/nutritionist chef, she offers nutrition and cooking classes to community members.