How to Cook Lemon Fish

Ever Tasted Lemon Fish?

OK, there’s no such fish as a lemon fish. I’m referring to a grilling method I learned after I moved to the Pacific Northwest. How many times have you been frustrated trying to turn Salmon fillets or Halibut Steaks on the grill, only to have them stick, crumble or fall thru the slots in the grill? And it’s so unsatisfying covering the grill with tin foil to protect against this, as the fish isn’t being heated directly by the coals, so the flavor just isn’t the same. I’ve seen all kinds of devices meant to keep this from happening, but there’s only one that you don’t have to clean afterwards and that gives a nice flavor to the fish as it cooks as a bonus…lemon!

Simply cut one medium thick slice of lemon for each fish “steak” or 2 or 3 slices for a fillet. Place them on the fish (if it’s a fillet, put them on the “fleshy” side, NOT the skin side) and then lay the fish on the grill so the lemon slices are between the grill and the fish. After 5 minutes or so (about when the fish would normally be done on that side), slide the fish and the lemon slice(s) off the grill with a spatula onto a plate, flipping the fish so the lemon slices face up. Pick them off with tongs (they’re kinda hot) or your fingers, replace them on the grill and lay the fish back on top of them with the uncooked side of the fish now acing down toward the heat.

After another 5 minutes or so, flip the fish and the slices with your spatula so that the first cooked side of the fish now faces the heat. This is so the parts of the fish that originally had the slices on them can cook (they don’t cook as well right under where the slice is) and so that the whole side can get that nice crispy quality that is one of the reasons you wanted to grill the fish in the first place. However, now that the fish is mostly cooked, it won’t tend to stick to the grill anymore. You can discard the used lemon slices by dropping them onto the coals or just throw them away.

After a couple more minutes, side “one” of your fish should be done, and a simple flip once more onto side “two” for a couple of minutes should finish the job. If you’re cooking a fillet, side one is the fleshy side and side two is the skin side. Sometimes after I’ve done my second flip and have side two facing up again and mostly cooked, I’ll pull the skin off with my tongs or fingers so that when I flip side two back down for its last minute or two, that part of the fish can get crisped up as well. Of course that’s only if you’re not too fond of eating the skin, which some people seem to like better than the fish!

I know that all sounds kind of complicated and it is a little tricky at first, but after you’ve done it once or twice, and have the hang of it, I guarantee you’ll never cook fish on the grill any other way. No more “lost” or stuck fish, plus the lemon slices give a pleasant hint of their flavor to the cooking fish. We enjoy grilled fish so much during the summer that I’ll purposely cook about twice as much as we can eat that night so that I can make:


  • 1 lb. Cooked (preferably grilled) salmon
  • 1⁄2 lemon, cut in 2 pieces
  • Pepper to taste
  • Dill weed to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon your favorite mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1⁄2 crisp apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 2 thin slices red or sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1⁄4 cup cooked, cooled, petite frozen peas

Skin the salmon and remove all bones. Place it in a large bowl and mash gently with a fork. Squeeze one piece of lemon over it and add pepper and dill weed to taste (about a 1⁄4 teaspoon each). Mash more until almost the consistency of tuna salad. Add the sour cream, mayo and mustard. Gently mix together, not thoroughly. Add the apple, onion and peas, but don’t stir. Squeeze the other piece of lemon into the salad. Mix thoroughly. Can be eaten immediately, but better if it has a chance to sit in the frig for an hour or two. Still pretty good the next day, but not as good as the same day.

For a delicious variation, substitute Halibut for Salmon AND capers for the peas.

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