Choosing The Best Fish Grilling Basket (A Definitive Guide For Cooking Seafood Over Coals)
Spring has sprung. Summer is finally here and pretty soon it will be time to dust off the BBQ for another season of outdoor cookery and alfresco dining.
Meat eaters are always well catered for at barbecues. Steaks, burgers, ribs, chicken and chops are all easy and hassle free to cook over coles.
For pescetarians it's a different story.
Cooking fish presents its own unique set of issues even when your indoors, baking in your oven, or frying on the stove top.
Throw some open flames into the mix and the risk of over cooking, burning, leaving it raw in the middle, or just not quite getting it right multiply.
Not only that, but the delicate sweet flesh of fish can easily break apart and disappear right before your eyes in a flurry of flakes through your grill on to the hot coals.
So, if you want to avoid this particular culinary disaster than it's probably time to invest in a good fish grilling basket.
If your in a hurry below are a few examples.
A Quick Look At Some Of The Best Fish Grilling Baskets.
Qualitech Stainless Steel Grilling Basket
The Qualitech 430 stainless steel grill basket has got a unique custom design. With 3 folding sections and a removable handle it collapses away neatly for easy storage and transport. So its Ideal if your going camping. Each section measures 4.5 inches wide so you can cook up to 3 fish at once or multiple items think, burgers, chicken or veggies. Made from high quality 430 grade steel the qualitech won't rust and comes with a full warranty and a free pair of gloves.
The YeeTeching Basket
The Yeeteching grill basket comes with a generous 13 inch cooking surface making it ideal for those who want to cook multiple fish at once. Its thick gauge stainless steel bars firmly hold food in place, give good heat distribution, and are easy to clean. It comes with a lockable, folding, heat resistant handle for easy storage.
Weber Large Fish Grill Basket
The Weber stainless steel grill basket is made from a flexible wire mesh that makes it ideal for grilling delicate food items like fish fillets. At 18 by 10 inches it can easily accommodate 4 or 5 fillets depending on size so its a good option if your cooking for a crowd. Its elevated side handles raise the food above the grill for Evan cooking. Its dishwasher safe but not really designed for cooking large whole fish
Jenify Grilled Fish Clip
The Jenify Fish clip is a fish shaped grill basket designed for cooking large fish up to 1.5 kg on the bone. The cooking area is 14.5 by 5,5 Inch wide. The thick wide set bars of the basket are durable and easy to clean. While the wooden handle is just long enough to keep you a nice distance from the heat.
GrillPro Fish Grill Basket
Why Evan Use A Grill Basket?
The best fish grilling baskets make cooking fish over coals child's play. You'll find it easy to flip the fish over and move it around for even cooking.
You'll easily be able to lift the fish off the grill and check if it's cooked without burning the handoff yourself.
Best of all, you'll have an awesome tasting piece of fish. With that unique smoky flavour and a moist succulent centre that you only get from cooking over red hot coals
No more worrying about an expensive piece of bass, salmon, or tuna disintegrating and having nothing to serve to your mates who’ve popped round for dinner and a few cold beers.
So, less stress and more time to spend with guests.
Choosing The Best Fish Grilling Basket - Why Size Matters
At the risk of stating the obvious, make sure you get a basket that will comfortably fit onto your char grill.
You'll want your bed of coals to extend a good 6 inches out from the edge of your basket especially if you get one designed for cooking 3 or 4 fish at a time.
Here's the deal...
If your bbq is too small and your grill basket too big than the fish won't cook evenly. The fish in the middle will be overcooked while on the outside they'll be raw.
Having a bigger bed of coals also gives you more control if your cooking larger whole fish on the bone.
You can start them off in the centre of the grill where it's good and hot, then move them to the edge where its a little cooler for a more gentle and even cooking.
So, before you buy measure up and make sure you can get a good constant heat under all your fish at once.
Features To Look For In The Best Fish Grilling Basket
The best fish grilling baskets should be durable, able to withstand high temperatures and be easy to use and clean (more on this in a minute).
That means a locking mechanism that is secure, bars that hold the fish firmly in place, and a handle that keeps you at a comfortable distance from the heat.
In my experience, the most dangerous part of grilling fish is when your flipping it.
If the basket lock slips at just the wrong moment your lovingly prepared fish might end up strewn across your grill.
So, get a basket that locks firmly and be extra careful when moving it around and when you're turning it.
Durability And Materials
These days most grill baskets are made from stainless steel or steel coated in chrome or some other type of non-stick coating like Teflon.
Stainless steel is cheap for both manufacturer and consumer, it can withstand wear and tear, won't rust. and you can put it in your dishwasher.
Try to avoid baskets with a thin wire mesh. Fish tends to stick easily to them and they can also warp and burn through after just a couple of uses.
The best fish grilling basket will have a thicker gauge bar that's more hard-wearing and made to last.
Though not as widely available, enamel isn't a bad choice as a material for a grill basket.
Like stainless steel, it's strong, durable, and can withstand serious heat. Their also the best looking of the lot and easily cleaned in the dishwasher.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are after a while bits of enamel will inevitably chip off.
So try not to bang it about too much and for heaven's sake don't drop it.
Cast iron grill baskets are a bit old school but would be a favorite of most grill-masters.
All though they can be a little heavy, their really strong, and can tolerate the highest of temperatures.
They're also really easy to clean and are non stick if you season them with oil and salt just like you would a cast iron pan or a wok.
Depth And Shape
Before you buy, give a little bit of thought to what cuts of fish your most lightly to cook.
Whole fish will need a lot more space then fillets and a deeper basket. Anything too tight could squash the fish like a pancake as it cooks.
If its fillets you plan on cooking than look for something shallower and a lot tighter that will hold the fish firmly in place.
Anything too loose and your fillets will flap about inside and there's a chance of them breaking up as they grill.
As a general rule the longer the handle the better.
Your hands will be a good safe distance from the heat when tending to your fish.
Always use a pair of gloves though, because all grill baskets conduct heat and no matter what they're made of the handles will eventually get hot.
So safety first.......
When it comes to materials I nearly always look for something metal for the simple reason that their easier to keep clean.
Wood and rosewood handles look good when new but will eventually char from heat, get dirty, and harbor bacteria.
There are baskets out there with detachable handles which sound like a great idea, especially from a safety point of view.
Having never used one though, I can’t really comment.
I reckon that as long as their well designed and the handle is easy to attach/detach without too much fiddling around then they could be a good way to go.
What's The Best Fish Grilling Basket - The Contenders
Choosing the best fish grilling basket can be a daunting task. There's a lot of different styles and options to choose from,
We’ve rounded up a review of five of the best, each with a slightly different design so that hopefully you'll find one that suits.
Here at Cockles n Mussels we hope you enjoy the products we recommend but we need to let you know that if you decide to purchase something through the links on this page we get a small commission. It helps keep the lights on round here.....Thanks.
Qualitech 430 Stainless Steel Grilling Basket
Weber 6471 Large Fish Basket
The most unique of the five on this list, the Weber 6471 Large Fish Basket is rectangular with a flexible stainless steel wire grid. It's double-sided handles raise the basket off the grates of the grill. It also features a proper locking mechanism, rather than a sliding lock. And if your cooking fillets this is probably the best fish grilling basket around,
How much fish will you cook?
If you are the type of cook who mostly uses the grill when there's company, or if you have a family to feed, the size of your fish grill basket matters.
Pick a basket that can hold a large fish (or several at a time) to make sure you’ve enough to feed everybody.
If you mostly cook for yourself or for two, you will likely find that a smaller basket fits more neatly in your lifestyle and kitchen.
What will you be grilling?
If your reading this than the obvious answer here is, of course, fish.
But presumably, you might also want to use your fish grilling basket for other foods like grilled pizzas, quesadillas, or more delicate vegetables like asparagus.
If you're like me and plan on primarily using your basket for fish, you can choose a fish-shaped basket.
Otherwise, keep an eye out for the shape and size that best suits.
Call me lazy, but I hate washing up (who doesn't)
Any time I’m buying something new for the kitchen the first question I ask myself is...
How easy will this be to clean?
All through your grill basket will be all shiny and new when it arrives it won’t stay that way for long.
After just a single use the gloss will come off.
But there are a couple of practical steps you can take during the cooking process to help keep it clean.
Firstly, only cook over red hot embers.
Cooking over naked flames will blacken your basket and your fish, cause a build-up of soot, and ultimately weaken and shorten your baskets life.
Secondly, go easy on oil-based marinades.
Dripping oil causes flare-ups which like above will discolor you basket especially if you brush it on during cooking.
If you plan or marinating your fish don't leave it swimming in oil before it hits the grill. Just a light brush with an oil-based marinade is best.
Better still, look for a recipe like one of these that's not quite so oil-based. Or if your dead set on an oil marinade think about adding more of it just as the fish comes off the grill.
Your fish will still soak up lots of flavor as it cools and rests and will still taste great.
Finally, try to make sure your fish doesn't get stuck to your basket
How to stop your fish Sticking
Fish sticking badly to a grill basket can be a bit of a nightmare.
Not only could you be left hungry but you'll have a bit of a job cleaning off all those burnt flakes that get stuck to the bars.
So, here's a couple of tips to help avoid this ordeal
- Cook your fish with the skin on- the flesh of fish is delicate. It can dry out quickly and easily become stuck. Leaving the skin and sometimes even the scales on your fish protects it from the heat. If you don't want to eat the skin its easily removed after cooking.
- Brush you basket with oil - A little oil helps lubricate things. Not too much though or you'll get flare-ups. One of those aerosol spray oils would be ideal for this job.
- Pre-heat the basket - Before the fish goes in, heat the basket on the coals for a couple of minutes. This helps seal the fish, it will begin to cook straight away, and there's less chance of it sticking.
Of course, if you want to avoid all this and for a little peace of mind than go for a non-stick basket
Best Non-Stick Fish Grill basket
Below are a couple of examples of non-stick fish grill baskets you could consider.
GrillPro Detachable Handle Fish Basket
Char-Broil Non-Stick Grill Basket
Fish You Can Grill Without A Basket
If you don’t have a fish grill basket or the hassle of cleaning one after a long day on the BBQ doesn't appeal there are a few species of fish that can go on the grill without one.
And lucky for me, they just happen to be some of my personal favorites. The guys over at char-broil have compiled a list here to which Ill add to a little.
Most flaky types of fish like salmon, cod, or haddock are always best grilled in a basket. But some species with a denser more tightly packed flesh can be cooked without one,
Tuna, swordfish, monkfish, and shark all fall into this category.
While certain type of whole fish like snapper or bass with the skin left on can also be cooked carefully on the BBQ.
Some cuts of fish left on the bone like ray wings, sole, or troncons of brill or turbot also work well.
The Best Fish Grilling Basket - Wrapping up
Once you’ve decided how many people you need to feed and on the size of your basket than the choice of which one to go for comes down to one simple factor.
Is it fillets or whole fish you'll be grilling?
If its fillets than the weber would probably be your best option. Its flexible wire mesh will hold everything in place without too much flapping around.
If however, its whole fish your gonna cook than I really like the Qualitech.
Its size gives you the flexibility to cook as much or as little as you need. Its multi-use and not just for fish, and on top of all that its hard wearing and easy to clean.
Best of luck and happy grilling....
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