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TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Tips for grilling fish

Q. Do you have any tips or recipes for grilling fish? A. I’ve been a fan of grilled fish since a friend turned me on to cooking walleyes that way after a successful outing on Lake of the Woods some 15 years ago. We filleted the walleyes and grilled them up at his cabin on Buffalo Bay that night, and they were without question some of the best walleyes I’ve ever had.

In this case, my friend had a metal grate made especially for grilling fish. The grate had a no-stick surface and a series of holes that allowed the heat and smoky flavor from the grill to reach the fillets while eliminating the risk of the fillets sticking or, even worse, falling into the coals.

To prepare the fillets, he removed the skin and placed a light coating of olive oil on each side of the fillet. He then sprinkled a a homemade coating mixture consisting of 3 tablespoons each of onion powder and garlic salt and one teaspoon of cayenne pepper on the fillets. I’ve used Cajun seasoning and even Lowry seasoning salt with satisfactory results, but my favorite is Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, which is available at most grocery stores.

After coating the fillets, he set them on the grate with the rib side of the fillet facing up and cooked the fish about eight minutes with the grill cover closed. The fillets are done when they begin to split and flake when touched with a fork.

Using this technique, there’s no need to turn the fillets.

If I don’t have a fish grate, I’ll take a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to hold the fillets and fold it in half, dull side out, turning in the edges around the fold. I then use a fork to poke holes in the foil before spraying it with a nonstick coating. The technique and cooking time are the same as with the fish grate.

Firm-fleshed fish such as northern pike (with the Y-bones removed), lake trout and salmon are especially tasty when cooked on the grill. Avoid overcooking, which dries out the fillets.

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Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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