What you’ll need
Gas, electric, wood, or charcoal grill, or grill pan
Aluminum foil for scrubbing
Wire grill basket
Natural, untreated cedar planks
Whether you grill over propane, electric, wood, or charcoal, grilling imparts great flavor and texture to fish. But because fish tends to be more delicate than other proteins, special attention should be paid to grill prep and fish prep. Impeccably clean grates that are well-oiled and fully heated are crucial so fish won’t stick. Equally important, do not turn the fish until it is lightly charred underneath. Fish will release from the grill more easily once the underside is cooked. For stress-free fish grilling, or grilling delicate fish like rockfish or cod, use a wire grill basket or a cedar plank. Firm, meaty fish like salmon, lingcod, and halibut are more forgiving and can be cooked directly on the grill, though cedar-planked salmon is ubiquitous.
For grilling directly: Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium heat (375°F to 400ºF). Clean the grates very well and brush with an oil with a high smoke point, like canola or safflower oil. Rub the fish with oil and season with the desired spices. For crispy skin, add fish skin side down if applicable and cook until nearly cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Carefully flip the fish and cook just until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes longer, depending on the thickness of the fillet and desired internal temperature (see How to Know When Fish is Done Cooking).
For grilling over cedar plank: Soak the plank in warm water for 1 to 2 hours and prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F). Add the soaked plank, then close the lid and allow it to begin smoking, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the plank and add the fish to the charred side of the plank. Close the lid and cook, without turning, until the fish flakes easily, 15 to 25 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet and desired internal temperature (see How to Know When Fish is Done Cooking).
If using a hinged grill basket: Oil the basket and fish, add the fish, and grill over medium-high heat, turning the basket once, until the fish flakes easily, 5 to 8 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet and desired internal temperature (see How to Know When Fish is Done Cooking).