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5 Tips for perfect BBQ fish this Australia Day

Australia Day is every Aussie's perfect excuse to fire up the BBQ and invite friends or family around. Fresh seafood zinging with flavour and a delicious smoky cross-hatched charring is not as tricky as you might think, so here are 5 top tips to help you serve a barbecued dish to impress.

1. Grill it whole

Free your guests from the kitchen and gather them around the BBQ to participate. It's fun to watch a whole fish being cooked and it creates a village-style feast that everyone can dig into. Try a whole yellowtail snapper or bream stuffed with fresh herbs, cooked presented on a platter surrounded by char grilled capsicum, corn and asparagus with a few extra lemon wedges on the side.

2. Score & rub for tasty skin

Buy fish already gutted and scaled. Rinse the fish with cold water, rub lightly with Australian olive oil and sea salt, then score 4-5 times about 5mm deep along the body on both sides with a sharp paring knife. This will help the thicker parts of the fish cook faster so that you don’t end up with a burnt tail.

3. Gentle turns will keep it whole 

Prep the coals well beforehand using natural wood chunks or a gas grill barbeque. Don’t use tongs to flip the fish because they will tear the skin – instead use a spatula to gently turn the fish over and cook evenly both sides. 

4. The best types of fish for grilling

Bream, Tasmanian salmon steaks and John Dory fillets are also great for the barbecue, although you’ll need vary the cooking time. Unlike steak or sausages, it’s best not to take your eyes off seafood as it cooks so quickly.

5. Grill it in a banana leaf

Fragile fillets and delicate skin can easily fall apart or stick to grill grates, so a banana leaf will help keep it all together. As well as keeping it moist it also imparts a delicate sweet smoky flavour from the grill.

Banana leaves are available either fresh or frozen at many Asian grocers. Ask for fresh leaves if they have them, but frozen is fine. Wash them thoroughly with water before you wrap the fish and you might also try tucking in a layer of sliced citrus and vegetables for extra subtle flavour.

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