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Selecting and grilling the season's freshest fish

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Selecting and grilling the season's freshest fish

There are few summer pastimes more honored than backyard grilling and entertaining. But before you fire up the grill for your next bash or weeknight dinner, you should learn how to properly select and grill fresh fish to perfection.

The wood grilling specialists at Bonefish Grill -- a polished casual restaurant in 29 states -- offer these tips to help you choose your next meal, fresh from the water to mouth-watering.

Selecting the best fish
Always seek the freshest fish in your local area. Ask your fish market or grocery if they receive their fish daily or what frozen options they recommend, and which selections.

Ask about the origin of the fish you're buying, and make sure it has been stored at about 28 F at all times, no matter where it came from.

If a fish smells "fishy," don't buy it and don't eat it. Look for shiny skin and undamaged scales. Press firmly on the skin and make sure the fish regains its original shape quickly. Whole fish should have clear eyes, not cloudy.

"One of the most flavorful ways to grill fish is on a wooden plank, which adds a smoky flavor," says Master Chef Tony Seta. "Plank cooking also allows delicate food to cook more gently because the plank forms a barrier between the flame and the fish, and keeps fish from sticking to the grill and breaking."

Chef Seta's top tips for perfect wood grilling
Purchase grilling planks from a gourmet food shop that are 1/4-inch thick and large enough for the fish. Do not use wood or shingles purchased from a home improvement store because they are chemically treated and not food-safe.

Soak the planks in water for at least three hours; this allows the wood to smoke and smolder without igniting on the grill. If the plank begins to flame on the grill, spray it with water.

Skin-on fish like salmon cook best on a plank. If the filet has skin on, cut a few 1-inch slits (about 1/4-inch deep) on the skin side, season the filet and place on the plank. Grill at 450 F on medium-high flame, covered, for nine to 13 minutes (cook to an internal temperature of 135 to 140 F).

If you're in the mood for a night out instead of manning the barbeque, Chef Seta recommends the fresh fish dishes at Bonefish Grill. Try the seasonal favorite Cedar Plank Salmon with a Chorizo Topping, or recreate it at home any time of the year with this simple recipe. Visit www.BonefishGrill.com to find the location nearest you. 

Bonefish Grill's Wild Alaskan Cedar Plank Salmon with a Chorizo Topping

Cedar Plank Salmon Ingredients:
4 pieces wild Alaskan salmon, skin-on, 7 ounces each
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 lemon halves
Chorizo Topping
4 food-safe cedar planks (or one plank large enough to fit four pieces of fish)

Chorizo Topping Ingredients:
8 ounces chorizo sausage links
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Zest from 1 medium lemon

Grill chorizo on a charcoal or gas grill until well done. Cool cooked sausage in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Using a food processor, chop sausage into pea-sized pieces. Place into mixing bowl and blend well with bread crumbs and lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate.

Soak cedar plank(s) in water for at least 3 hours. Place salmon, skin side down, onto soaked cedar plank. There should be a 1-inch space between each piece of salmon. Season with salt and pepper. Divide chorizo topping into 4 equal portions and place on top of the fish. Place salmon on planks onto grill and close lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Note: The plank will char around the edges but should not catch flame. Place onto platter, drizzle with melted butter and squeeze fresh lemon juice over salmon. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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