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How To Grill Fish On Charcoal Grill

Last year's El Nino's yellowtail bite is carrying over into the winter of 2016. My buddies Mikey, Steveoo, Brian, Chris, Manny and I knew if we just got out of bed, we could score at the La Jolla kelp beds. So we met, and while they fished I filmed. They yanked on 20 and 30 pounders that worked their arms off. Everybody's problem with these big fish? How to grill fish on a charcoal grill especially if it's big!

Grilling a large section of fish can be challenging. Plus, it can get technical. For example, skin or no skin? And, if there's uneven portions of fish to cook, what then? There's some planning required. But, these challenges can be over come and the resulting grilled fish can turn out perfectly cooked and yummy. That's why I made this video, to help you learn how to grill fish on a charcoal grill, especially if you've got a big section to cook up!

how to cook a whole fish

Manny with his 25 pound heart stopping yellowtail!!

Grilling A Slab Section Of Yellowtail (serves 4-6)

1/2 yellowtail midsection including loins, rib, belly meat with the skin on

¼ cup of molasses

2 limes, juiced

1 tablespoon of hot sauce

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Black pepper

Kosher salt

how to grill fish on a charcoal grill

How To Grill A Fish On A Charcoal Grill

1. Gut, gill and scale your yellowtail.

2. Extract the midsection yellowtail by cutting off its head (just behind its gill plate) and then cutting off the tail section which starts at its anal port. Now, starting at the top of the yellowtail, use a long sharp chef's knife to make a downward cut from one end of the midsection to the other end along side the dorsal fin. Once you pass the yellowtail spine you'll begin to start cutting through its rib bones. You will end up with two halves. Either side can be used for this dish.

3. Clean out all the unwanted blood sacks along the spine by sprinkling coarse kosher salt over the spine. Then use a butter knife to dig out the unwanted blood sacks. Rinse with water. Now start to clean and prepare the attached belly meat by using kosher salt and a thin bladed fillet knife to remove the belly meat lining.

4. Once the exposed meat of the yellowtail is cleaned and prepped, flip over the midsection exposing the skin side. With a long chef's knife make 4 perpendicular cuts, 2 inches apart, through the thickness loin meat starting a top of the fish. These cuts will serve three purposes. First, it will allow for even cooking of the thick loins compared to the thinner belly meat; second, you will be able to see when your yellowtail is finished cooking looking inside the cuts; and, finally, serving portions will be precut.

Make The Marinade and Baste

5. Prepare the marinade/baste by mixing the molasses, lime juice, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Split the marinade/baste into two separate containers. Use one for marinading and the other for basting (use two separate brushes).

6. Liberally apply vegetable oil onto the yellowtail skin, I use a dabbed paper towel. Now, place the yellowtail midsection skin side down, onto a baking tray. Brush the exposed meat with marinade. Set aside for half hour in the refrigerator. Discard the unused marinade.

Grilling Tip:

Whether you use a gas or charcoal Bbq, you must configure the grill to have high heat on one side and a lower heat on the other. This configuration will allow you to cook the thicker portion of your midsection without burning the thinner, belly section.

7. When your Bbq is at operational temperature (plus/minus 500F) clean the grill and wipe it down with vegetable oiled paper towel. Place the midsection on the grill skin side down. Close the cover on the Bbq, then cook for approximately 10 minutes, just long enough to get a golden brown, crispy skin. Keep an eye on this, since there's a fine line between just right and burning the skin.

8. When the skin is cooked, flip the midsection over with a pair of strong sturdy tongs. Liberally brush on your baste every 5 minutes. The dripping will smoke up and flavor the meat. Remember to keep your cover closed whenever possible. Cook the midsection for approximately 15-20 minutes. Use a knife to probe the cuts to see if the meat has cooked. Leave the fish on the Bbq if more time is required.

9. When cooked, place the midsection, skin side up on the serving platter, then pour the remaining baste on top. Finally, portion along the cuts and serve.


Here's a great way to support Fisherman's Belly. Use our amazon links to purchase items you may need. You don't pay extra but, Amazon sends us a small commission onyour purchase. Just click on the links below to take a look and shop around. Thanks, Yanni __________________________________________________________

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➤ 12-inch Chef's Knife

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➤ GoPro HERO4 Black

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Meet The



I'm a fisherman and a cook, and I love to do both. My name is Yanni and welcome to my website, Fisherman's Belly. Here, using your fresh fish and everyday ingredients, you can learn to cook hand-crafted easy fish recipes. 

See you on the water and in the kitchen. Yanni

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Thanks for submitting your question. I'll get back with you as soon as possible. Yanni

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