Help Line

Chefs and authors guide you through some fishy situations.
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whole grilled fish with sauce and salsa

Q: I like well-done fish, but I still want it moist. —Chris K. 

Los Angles–based chef and seafood expert Michael Cimarusti uses a cake tester (basically a metal toothpick) to check for doneness. It will slide right through a cooked fish but give some resistance in the center if the fish needs more time. Pull the fish off the grill when it’s still a little underdone, then let it rest, like you would a steak.

Q: Fresh fish is pretty much out of our budget. —Rebecca P. 

“I love wild king salmon bellies,” says Maria Finn, a former commercial fisherman and the author of The Whole Fish. “At the farmers’ market, they’re only $10 a pound versus $25 and up for fillet or steak.” Whole fish like rockfish or trout is also a good pick: “The bones and skin add flavor when cooking, and it’s usually much cheaper,” Finn says.

Q: All the fish we buy are frozen and just fall apart when grilled. —Jill T. 

For frozen fish, thaw it completely before putting it on the grill. Put the fish on a plate (to catch any juices) and defrost it in the fridge overnight. Once you get it on the grill, watch your timing. “The fish won’t begin to fall apart until you overcook it,” Cimarusti says.