Sunday, July 03, 2011

Recipe for Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon (Halibut, Tilapia, or Mahi Mahi)

This delicious fish marinade with garlic, basil, and lemon is good on Halibut, Tilapia, or Mahi Mahi.

(This recipe was revisited and finally updated with photos July 2011!)  It's a big holiday weekend in the U.S., and tonight I'm going to a birthday party for Nick, the charming 85 year old dad of my good friend Mary.  Nick and Mary's husband Ken were both born on July 3, so my memories of the Fourth of July involve lots of birthday parties for them.  No doubt July 4th is one of the biggest grilling days of the year for most Americans, and while most people probably grill burgers for the birthday of our nation, around here you're much more likely to find fish or chicken in my grilling recipes.  This easy recipe for grilled fish marinated in a combination of garlic, basil, and lemon is something I made for years when I was catering houseboat trips at Lake Powell, and  this recipe is long overdue for some photos.  I did get a little overly-enthusiastic with the grill marks, which is what will happen if you forget to turn your grill down to medium-high when you put the fish on, but the halibut in this photo was still lip-smackingly good!

The idea of garlic and basil with fish may seem unusual, but please trust me on this marinade. You could use fresh basil, but for a marinade like this I almost prefer dried herbs, and I've made this one many times with dried basil with great results. I've also cooked this indoors using the broiler in my toaster oven, and that turned out great too.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, Spike Seasoning (if using), garlic puree, and dried basil.  Put the fish in a Ziploc bag with the marinade and marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

When you're ready to cook, take fish out and let it come to room temperature while you preheat the grill, which you have generously oiled or sprayed with non-stick spray made for the grill.  I start heating on high and then turn the grill down to medium-high when I put the fish on.  (If you forget to turn it down for a few minutes you'll get over-enthusiastic grill marks like I did, but just cook the fish a slightly shorter time and it will still be good.

The best way to tell when fish is done is by gently pressing down with your finger; the fish should feel firm, but not hard to the touch.  As a general rule, grill fish about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon 
(Halibut, Tilapia, or Mahi Mahi)
(Makes enough marinade for 6-8 pieces of fish; you can cut the marinade recipe in half if you're cooking less. I made this recipe for years at Lake Powell but I don't remember if I created it or saw the recipe somewhere; if anyone recognizes it please let me know so I can give proper credit.)

Ingredients:
halibut, tilapia, or mahi-mahi, one piece per person

Marinade Ingredients:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
2 tsp. Spike Seasoning (optional, but good)
2 T garlic puree (or slightly less garlic powder but I think the garlic puree from a jar gives better flavor)
1 T dried basil

Instructions:
Thaw the fish completely in refrigerator if frozen.  Mix marinade ingredients.  Put fish in Zip-loc bag or plastic container with a snap-tight lid, arranging it in a single layer.  Pour marinade over and marinate in refrigerator for 2-3 hours. (Turn it over a few times if you're home.  Don't marinate it too much longer than this or the marinade will start to "cook" the fish.)

When you're ready to cook, take the fish out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.  Oil the grill grates generously with oil poured on to a paper towel, or use a non-stick spray made for the grill.  Turn grill on to high and preheat while the fish comes to room temperature.

Turn the grill to medium-high when you are ready to put the fish on (or for a charcoal grill, you can only hold your hand there for a few seconds when it's hot enough to cook fish.)  To get grill marks, lay the fish diagonally across grill grates; after first grill marks appear (about 3 minutes) rotate fish so it's laying diagonally the other way.  After about 6 minutes carefully turn fish over to cook the other side.  

Total cooking time for grilled fish is about 10 minutes per inch of thickness, but the best way to test is by lightly pressing on the fish with your finger; it should feel firm but not hard to the touch when it's done.

This marinade would also be good on shrimp, scallops, or chicken. Chicken could be marinated quite a bit longer; I would marinate shrimp or scallops for only about 2 hours.


South Beach Suggestions:
This is a great recipe for any phase of the South Beach Diet. For phase one, serve with something like Marinated Pepper Salad with Garbanzos and Olives. For phase two or three, it would be delicious with Georgette's Very Lemony Greek Pilafi

More Good Ideas for Fish for the Fourth of July:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Grilled Halibut with Southwestern Rub and Tomatillo Salsa from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled Salmon with Asian Dipping Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled Halibut with Cumin and Lime from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled Halibut with Garlic Cilantro Sauce  from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled Spicy Tuna from Kalyn's Kitchen
Fish and Shrimp on the Grill from The Kitchn
Grilled Fish with Green Mango Pico de Gallo from [No Recipes]
Grilled Whole Fish with Chili Soy Dipping Sauce from Steamy Kitchen
Mediterranean Fish in Foil Packets from Gluten Free Goddess
Grilled Halibut with Chimichurri from Je Mange la Ville
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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12 comments:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I love grilled fish. For some reason, halibut isn't that easy to find in my local fish markets, so I tend to grill salmon, tuna or swordfish. I think this marinade would be delicious with cod loin, which is a cut we can get here in New England, though it's not a grilling fish so it's one to try under the broiler.

Kalyn said...

Lydia, I wish we could get good cod in Utah, but it's not worth buying here. Isn't that funny how we have such different fish available. I do think this marinade would be great on cod.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple pieces of MahiMahi I'd like to use this with. For some reason I havn't been able to find 'spike' seasoning locally,however I do have a long over-due appreciation thank you for suggesting Pensky's spices and have been enjoying them very much.Thank you Kalyn,and Happy,Healthy 4th to you and yours.

Kalyn said...

Happy Fourth of July to you too. I do love Penzeys, and also The Spice House (they are brother and sister.)

I know you can buy Spike from Amazon.com if you don't ever find it, or just use any all-purpose seasoning blend that you like.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Sorry this doesn't fit here but I just read your "freezing herbs" post:
I picked, cleaned and dried basil and mint and placed them in tupperwares in the fridge yesterday. Today when I opened them they seemed to have a strange smell - a bit rotten - and the leaves are greying (both plants). i wonder if this method is correct?
Thanks!

Kalyn said...

You should be putting them in the freezer, not in the fridge. I assume you, if you follow directions and put the herbs in the freezer it will work.

Cooking Creation said...

Your fish looks perfectly cooked! I don't think garlic and basil sound unusual at all! In fact, I frequent that combination with haddock and it is definitely delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

Kalyn said...

Thanks. I don't think I've ever had haddock; never see it for sale here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kalyn!

Thanks for the comment. I actually meant I put them in the freezer in tupperwares. A friend said maybe if I had put them in ziploc bags sucking the air out they wouldn't have browned. Do you think this is the problem? it's sooo sad because it took me ages to grow my herbs :(

Kalyn said...

And I noticed in my comment I wrote "I assume you" instead of "I assure you" so we are all typing too fast! I can't figure out why the herbs would turn brown, but I do always put them in some kind of plastic container with a snap-right lid or in a Ziploc bag.

Did you puree the basil with olive oil like I described in this post about How to Freeze Fresh Basil? That should have kept it from turning brown.

Jeanette said...

Kalyn,
What a nice light marinade for fish, whatever is available. I used to be intimated by cooking fish, but it is so easy.

Kalyn said...

Jeanette, I agree, this is such an easy way to make fish moist and flavorful.

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