Grilled Fish Steaks

Grilled steaks are a simple and elegant way to enjoy the flavour and texture of fine fish. Cutting a large fish into steaks, horizontally across the backbone, has a number of advantages. First, you have pieces of meat that are of consistent thickness for cooking, whether your steaks are ½ inch thick or thicker. You’re not faced with the awkward differences in amount of meat near the backbone versus the belly cut that can affect timing, so each piece will cook evenly. Second, it’s easier to make similar sized portions than with filleting or serving straight off a whole cooked fish. Third, it automatically creates attractive presentation options, with its pleasing oval shape, neatly divided in two by the section of backbone. It also minimizes bones on each person’s plate, bones that can be seen easily and removed with confidence. Finally, fish steaks freeze well and if packed properly, can be defrosted in exactly the quantity desired.

Many large fish can be grilled as steaks, including huge tuna (cut up like beef), but their individual flavour needs will vary. This recipe is for fish with a relatively delicate flavour like trout or bass.

Ingredients are per serving:

1 teaspoon Vegetable oil
1 1/2  to 1 inch thick fish steak, such as sea bass or sewin (approximately 6-10 ounces).
1 thin slice Onion
Dash Powdered ginger
Sprinkling Dried tarragon
Splash Lemon juice (fresh if possible)


  1. Preheat oven grill or broiler to medium high. (If you’re barbecuing, you’ll have to adapt!)
  2. Line grill pan with good aluminum foil. Grease with the oil where the fish will sit.
  3. Position steak on foil.  Separate bits of the onion and place in the cavity between rib bones.
  4. Season lightly with ginger and tarragon and the barest squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  5. Cover loosely with a second piece of foil, just big enough to go around the fish.
  6. Place under the grill so that the top foil is a good couple of inches away from the element.
  7. Allow to steam for 5 minutes for a thinner steak, or up to 10 minutes for a thick one.
  8. At the same time, begin heating your serving platter/individual plates (helpful for final cooking of the bottom of the steak). I slide mine under the grill pan.
  9. Remove top foil; flesh should be opaque from the top, though might still be translucent near the bottom, and should NOT be overly firm anywhere.
  10. Grill steak exposed to the element for a few minutes, until the top is firm and onion pieces have begun to colour on the edges. Flesh should flake easily with a fork.
  11. Transfer to hot plate, catching the onion (you may notice flesh at the bottom of a thick steak isn’t quite as done as the top, but it will be done enough, and continue to ‘cook’ on the plate).
  12. Serve immediately.

Offer mild and light side dishes to accompany this main, so as not to overpower the delicate flavours. Similarly, salt and pepper should not be necessary for the fish.

TIP: A fish slice is perfect for transferring steaks from the grill to the plate without breaking up the cooked fish.Picture of a 'fish slice'

I'm an American living in the UK, combining rural Mid-west ideas about food with a suburban coastal British reality. It's fun!

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Sharing a lifetime of experience of kitchen challenges. Respecting food and making the most of what's available. Read more on my About page.
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March 2015
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