The Types Of Fish You Should Always Avoid Grilling

Grilling is a classic American pastime, and maybe the culinary activity people most associate with the summer season. Probably the best thing about grilling — aside from all those great smells it creates — is how many different things you can successfully grill. Burgers, hot dogs, sausages, steaks, mushrooms, zucchini, pork shoulder, pork ribs; there's a lot of options for aspiring grillmeisters, whether you're carnivorous or vegetarian.

But despite the versatility of grilling as an activity, there are some things that don't belong anywhere near a grill. You may think that grilled seafood sounds like a good idea, and it can be — but only if you're going with the right fish options. Something like shrimp on a skewer is perfect (particularly if you marinate the shrimp), but others are ... not so much. The key thing to remember is to avoid anything so delicate that it easily falls apart.

Delicate, flaky fish are a bad idea on the grill

You can grill more seafood than you might think; for instance, scallops grill pretty well as long as you hit them with extremely high heat and watch them carefully. Grilling skin-on salmon works well, too, although you have to make sure to oil it well so it doesn't stick. Swordfish, with its hearty, steak-like texture, is probably the best possible fish for grilling. That's the key here: You want something that's going to hold together.

Any fish that's delicate or extremely flaky — cod, haddock, flounder, hake, sea bass, tilapia, pollock, etc. — is going to fail miserably on the grill for a couple of reasons. The first is just based on simple physics: If a fish falls apart easily, it's going to fall apart on the grill and go directly into the coals. In addition to having to clean fish chunks out of your grill, you can't exactly eat carbonized haddock. The second issue is that these delicate fish don't do well at all when exposed to high heat, quickly drying out and becoming inedible. Even on the lower settings, a grill is going to blast them to oblivion.

Other foods you should keep far from the grill

Delicate fish isn't the only thing you should keep far away from your grill. Some of the best proteins available in other circumstances don't do well at all when exposed to a grill's high heat. Bacon is immediately out, because it does well when exposed to a consistent level of heat that allows it to render evenly; the by-definition inconsistent heat of a grated grill (as opposed to a flat-top) means some parts of the bacon are going to fully cook while others are underdone –– and nothing in the world is more off-putting than underdone bacon. While pork ribs and pork shoulders are great for a barbecue, pork chops aren't good for grilling either because their fat content is too low. And brisket may be the king of BBQ meats, but only if you smoke it; exposing it to high heat just toughens it and destroys the entire cut.

The key to grilling, even more than something like knowing what wood to use, is knowing what you should grill and what you shouldn't. Just make sure to avoid things that can't stand up to the heat, and your barbecue will be a huge hit.