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First Time Cooking Fish - Oh, I Need Some Advice, Please

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    First Time Cooking Fish - Oh, I Need Some Advice, Please

    Ok. I will be the first person to tell you that I am not all that comfy cooking fish. Doesn't matter the method, grill, pan, etc., fish just doesn't seem to be my thing. But, I have to admit I am getting much better with tuna steaks in my cast-iron pan. The teriyaki marinade certainly helps. Now the wife has asked me to make tilapia. I went out and picked up a few pounds of tilapia loins.

    And as I am looking at them, I get the same feeling I did when I took the SAT in high school!

    I need some help here boys. Temps, rubs, methods, etc., Anything to move me in the right direction. Because I know the next thing I'll be asked to cook by some family member, will be lobster or shrimp.

    Thanks in advance.

    BTW - dinner is tonight!

    I typically keep it simple for white fish filets. Bake in a pyrex dish at 425 for about 10-12 mins. Butter, lemon, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley. Hard to go wrong unless you massively overcook it.

    Can you grill it? Sure. Is it worth it for tilapia? Not in my opinion.


      If you don't want to bake the tilapia, you can always saute it.

      BTW, lobster and shrimp are quite easy. But we'll wait until you actually have to cross that bridge.
      Last edited by Draznnl; July 15, 2021, 05:52 AM.


        If you have any Blackened Seasoning around, that would be one way to kick up the flavor of the fish. It’s pretty easy, and you mentioned you’ve already done tuna in CI. This is best done outside and on your kettle.
        1. Brush the filets with melted butter 2. Sprinkle your blackened seasoning on both sides of the filets 3. Put a few tablespoons of butter in your CI skillet and put over the coals 4. Get the skillet searing hot and the butter is smoking 5. Place filets in the skillet for about 1 minute then flip. Cook additional few minutes till done. This is a great way to do fish….tuna or salmon also. Here’s some catfish I did recently.
        Attached Files


        • smokenoob
          smokenoob commented
          Editing a comment
          Thats my goto blackening fish method!

        • Daba's BBQ
          Daba's BBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          Oh, I like this.

          I am having my brother/sister-in-law over tomorrow for dinner. I am making a few racks of ribs. So today I was going to make about a quart of black cherry bbq sauce and some rub. Now I have to experiment and make try to myself a nice Blackened rub as well.

          I'll have Alexa play some Allman Brothers while I play in the kitchen!

          What a great start to the weekend, even though I'm about a day early

        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          Here’s a good looking homemade blackened seasoning. I haven’t tried it myself, but it looks to be accurate, seasonings wise. My go to Blackened Seasoning is from Louisiana Brands, available online if you can’t find it in stores.


        Yep, a CI skillet is a nice way to go as PJ has listed there.

        Grilled is also wonderful to do. I find the Key is to wipe down the grates with a paper towel and oil after they are hot and then place the fish down. From there, don’t touch it! You can check the fish after a few minutes with a gentle nudge to see if it has released itself from the grate, if it hasn’t, let it go a bit more until it releases then use a long, thin metal spatula and tongs to gently flip over to the other side. Should finish fairly quickly. (Use this method for some great fish tacos as well).

        As for seasonings, anything you like really, salt, garlic and pepper are just fine. Or a rub you like. Just a nice way to have tilapia.

        but remember, be gentle or you will be fishing out bits of filet.



        • bbqLuv
          bbqLuv commented
          Editing a comment
          Having to fish out fish filets, yep. I hate it when that happens.
          I turned to Grillgrates, flat side up. Game changer.

        Skillet is good I wrap in foil with seasoning and place on grate. Open up foil to get some smoke on them if you like.


          Block me if you want, but I suggest trying tuna steaks. Nice firm flesh. Taste great. Easy Peasy.
          Great how-to's on Youtube.


          • Panhead John
            Panhead John commented
            Editing a comment
            We’ve pretty much all got you blocked. 😂

          • Daba's BBQ
            Daba's BBQ commented
            Editing a comment
            LOL - no I won't block you. I had tuna last night in my CI - awesome. I just made the rub that Panhead posted on my tilapia loins for tonight.

          • Panhead John
            Panhead John commented
            Editing a comment
            Daba's BBQ Great! Post your pics later. Then let us know how you like that rub. I might try it myself.
            Last edited by Panhead John; July 15, 2021, 01:53 PM.

          My first fish dish on the smoker (PBC) was salmon and while it turned out fantastic, it stuck the grates like crazy even with all of the oil I used.

          The other challenge I have -- especially for thin or quick cooking fish, such as tuna -- is that it doesn't seem worth the effort to get the grill all set up for something that cooks in six minutes.

          I have done more salmon on the grill (Weber Kettle) and what I've started to do is make a little boat for the fish. I take some heavy-duty aluminum foil, double it over, and fold it so it has sides about 1/2"-1" tall. I then give that a quick blast of cooking spray. Fish doesn't stick and it is easy to move around the grill.

          Another technique that seems to be useful, although I have not have had time to do it myself, is place a layer of sliced lemon on the grill grates and place the fish on top of that. The lemon slices can also be used for garnish as well.

          My oily fish (salmon, trout, tuna) game is much better than my white fish game, though. If I were to do tilapia, I'd do PanHead John's idea......blackened. I know for my stove and cast iron, a 2 minute and 30 second "sear" at 450 F gets me a good blackened crust without burning. If the tilapia is not at 140 F (that is the right temp, I think?) after the second flip, I put it in a 350 F oven to finish. (But I have learned to be careful here. Fish can shoot up in temp fast in the oven.)

          If you're looking for a ridiculously tasty and easy salmon recipe, here is Steven Raichlen's Salmon Candy: https://barbecuebible.com/recipe/salmon-candy-2/ Go by temp and not time. These things can cook faster than you think. You want to pull at 140 F.


            For grilling fish, burgers or vegetables, I always use something like this type of grate with holes. Or Grill Grates if you have them. Sprayed with high heat vegetable oil for the grill. It works much better than using your standard grill grate. Don’t have to worry about fish falling between the grates.
            Attached Files
            Last edited by Panhead John; July 17, 2021, 12:39 PM.


            • surfdog
              surfdog commented
              Editing a comment
              Yep... +1 on the perforated cookware. I have several different shapes & sizes...mostly Weber brand, but I’m sure they’re all much the same.

              I need to check out that spray...

              I also use the Weber 6678 or 6435 for smoked nachos.

            Panhead - I have those greats. I'll be using one of them tonight. TY


            • Panhead John
              Panhead John commented
              Editing a comment
              This ain’t no big deal, but if you want to reply to someone’s post, directly under that post, tap or click “comment” Your answer will then be put directly under the OP (original post). Just like this one. 👍
              Reason why is… If you want to answer or reply to someone that’s 2 or 3 posts up, and you try to answer them by tapping “Post Reply” your reply will be far from the original post.
              Last edited by Panhead John; July 15, 2021, 02:04 PM.

            So, fish is easy in the basics... sauté it and don't overcook it. Baking also works. You're looking for most fish to be 135-145 internal temp, not higher. Grilling it is a pain in the ass that I don't think is worth it - it's doable of course, but the risk of it sticking and breaking apart is not tiny and it makes the meal a hassle. If I were grilling fish much I'd get one of those fish baskets that you can simply flip over.

            Tilapia has very little flavor so I'd do a sauce of some kind. Even a brown butter sauce with herbs would be nice.

            Generally I break down fish into two categories - fatty and not. Fatty fish like salmon etc can take some smoke and there can be some error around the timing. Non-fatty fish can be smoked too, but you want to watch it a bit more since, well, it's lean.


              There are a lot of good information and suggestions in this AR Fish and Seafood on the Grill Happy Hour recording


              • Daba's BBQ
                Daba's BBQ commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks for the link

              super simple

              salt and pepper the tilapia
              cut 1 cup worth of cherry tomatoes in half
              cut 1 lemon into slices, discard the end chunks
              lay the lemon on the bottom of a 9x13 pyrex dish
              drizzle in 2 tbsp of olive oil
              mix the tomatoes in with the lemon and olive oil
              lay the tilapia in the dish, nestle it down into the oil/tomato/lemon slice mix

              pre-heat oven to 400f
              put dish in oven and bake for 15 minutes .... check fish, it should be white, tender, flaking. If it is, it's done. If not, give it 2 more minutes and check again

              I usually make a rice pilaf and green salad with this. Works for any white fish


              • Daba's BBQ
                Daba's BBQ commented
                Editing a comment
                Wow, awesome. TY

              • ecowper
                ecowper commented
                Editing a comment
                Daba's BBQ happy to help .... this is a dish we make fairly often, usually with Pacific Cod. Tilapia is a bit thinner than cod, so it may cook quicker. I think I'd start checking at 10 minutes. :-)

              You could also use some of these flexible grill mats - or screens as suggested here... I've successfully used the flexible ones many times - they keep the grill clean and they wash up easy. Kinda like frying, but on a simple mat placed over the grill.


                You wanna fry this SOB up for me? LOL
                Click image for larger version

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                • Panhead John
                  Panhead John commented
                  Editing a comment

                • Spinaker
                  Spinaker commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I put this picture out at my brothers wedding without him knowing. It was the only one anyone really talked about. LOL Panhead John


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