In the summer months, one of the healthiest and most elegant ways to cook fresh game fish is to marinade it for a short time in herbs, lime juice, and olive oil, and then grill it. (As I’ve noted previously in this column, my favorite method of grilling fish is to use a cedar plank!) The following marinade is easy to prepare—and when conjoined with good quality fish on a cedar plank over a grill, it may yield some of the purest and yet most flavorful meat you’ve ever tasted. Indeed, I used this method to prepare St. Lawrence River pike for my dad this summer, and he told me that it was the best fish he’d ever tasted ... my dad never lies. This recipe is especially wonderful with northern pike and walleye. Make sure you use fresh thyme, fresh lime juice, and fresh basil. If you grill the fish on a cedar plank (available at most hardware stores), make sure you soak it for at least 20 minutes first before you load your fish onto it. If you do not use a cedar plank, place your fish on aluminum foil before placing it on the grill. The aluminum foil will prevent the fish from sticking and help hold the marinade on the fish.
Cedar plank or aluminum foil (if you use aluminum foil, cut the foil to fit the bottom side of the fish)
1-2-pounds of northern pike or walleye, filleted (remove the Y bones, if you know how)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
2 teaspoons (packed) minced fresh thyme
1½ teaspoons (packed) minced fresh basil
½ teaspoon Dijon
½ teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic
Prepare your charcoal (and, if you are using a cedar plank, soak it for 20 minutes). In a small bowl, vigorously mix the olive oil, lime juice, maple syrup, thyme, basil, Dijon, salt, and garlic. Brush a light coating of the mixture on your fillets and let sit for an hour or two. Place fish on a plank or on foil that has been sized to the fish, and place on grill. Cover with vents open. After 4-5 minutes (depending on how thick fish is and how hot grill is), remove cover and test fish by pressing on it ( if you wish to be on the safe side, cutting into it). If it feels firm and is cooked all the way through, remove from the grill and serve! If it needs more time, cover again and continue to cook until it feels and looks done. (Note: Fish cooked on aluminum foil and cedar planks does NOT need to be flipped. Generally, using a plank will require several more minutes of cooking time than aluminum foil.)
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