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May 7, 2009 10:55 AM

Recipes for grilling fish in foil packets?

While I grill fish all the time, I've never done a recipe in which you put fish & assorted spices herbs in a foil packet & grill. It sounds like such a healthy way to do it, no butter or oil & wine...? Can you share your favorite recipes that you've used to cook fish this way? My grill is fired up & ready to go. Thanks!

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  1. I just did that for the first time this week with some cod fillets -- so now I'm an expert!

    I did use butter -- melted 4Tbs for 4 fillets with pepper, fresh oregano, parsley, and some lemon juice. Nothing fancy, but you can add anything you like - garlic, basil, green onoin... or go some other direction like soy, mirin, ginger, and sesame oil.

    I drizzled the fillets with the butter mix and sealed them up. I think grilling is unnecessary since the fillets are fully sealed and don't pick up any smoke or searing. Actually my results were not that different from microwaving under saran wrap - the fish was nicely steamed and infused with the herbs and lemon. Be sure to serve with something that you can mop up the excess liquids with - rice, baguette... cuz that's where the flavor is. (And try not to puncture the packets on the grill since that would be the end of the excess liquids.)

    3 Replies
    1. re: BernalKC

      Thanks so much. HOw long did you grill them for? ...the same amount of time as if it were on the grill without the foil?

      1. re: synergy

        Timing totally depends on the size/thickness of the fillets and how hot your grill is. If it is direct/hot with typical sized fillets, 12-15 minutes. Possibly less if its really hot. The times would be similar to no-foil, maybe even less since the wrap retains the moisture and steams the fish.

        As aklien notes, it is possible to finish the fish with the foil opened. I think I'll try that next time. Or what we tend to do with delicate fillets is form a foil basket and just use the foil to keep the fish from sticking to the grill.

        The sealed foil approach is really good for retaining the moisture and cooking the other flavors in. If you want the smoky grilled effect, use a substantial cut of fish with the skin on that you can grill directly.

      2. re: BernalKC

        I guess grilling isn't necessary, but many of us run the grill all summer... and if you want, you could open the packet near the end with some soaked wood chips on the fire or smoke box (I would avoid the big ones like mesquite or hickory, stick with fruit woods, oak, cedar)... I guess any fish is good, especially if you can get it locally...

        one of my faves is using fresh-caught striped bass (small bluefish would work well, but the bigger they grow, the stronger the taste and smell) ... cut up some citrus (even grapefruit sections), thinly sliced red onions, garlic, poblano, a little olive oil if you like, salt, pepper, some herb like parsley, cilantro, thyme... wrap that sucker up and onto the cooler side of the grill... roast some par-boiled potatoes and corn on the hotter part of the grill at the same time.... be happy

      3. Check out Alton Brown's recipes for fish en papillote on He gives accurate size, times, temps, etc.

        3 Replies
        1. re: KiltedCook

          I find two that look really promising, but neither calls for grilling. Which I think is to be expected. This is really a steaming technique that happens to work on a grill or a nuker or an oven.

          Red Snapper en Papillote (baked w/cous cous!)

          Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Julienne Vegetable (microwaved)

          1. re: BernalKC

            To KiltedCook's response, any recipe for cooking en papillote will work with foil. And cooking in foil over a grill (or any other heating method) is basically steaming.

            1. re: alwayscooking

              Basically true, I agree, and I use the same recipes in the oven in parchment or foil. I prefer parchment in the oven. I do cook them on the grill weekly and love them and they are a big for any parties I host.

              Honestly I just enjoy grilling outside. I may make some foil stuffed bread or even foil potatoes and my potatoes don't steam they roast and get nice and brown. Whatever the method is, they get rave reviews always and I enjoy being outside grilling in the nice weather sipping a nice glass of wine.

        2. Sorry for the long response, but I have many good recipes which I love. It is something I love to do at least weekly when I get the chance. The last few weeks I have been busy but I intend to be back out this weekend.

          I grill fish pouches at least 1-2 times a week. I also do my potatoes in there as well as my veggies. I do parchment paper pouches and unfortunately there are no set times as to what you put in the pouches at what type of fish or seafood makes all the difference. Since you asked about grilling I will answer that as in FL I do it year round.

          I use halibut/cod, grouper, tilapia or flounder, shrimp, scallops, salmon, etc. It is wide open.
          First Note: you don't flip the pouch rule #1, also grill should be on medium to high heat, and I always add a little white, broth or whatever to the bottom for a little steamed effect but still roasts perfectly. I also like heavy duty foil, less poke resistant. And I use a spatula not tongs, to move the fish, tongs will rip the foil. Also always spray the inside of the foil with pam or oil to prevent sticking.

          Ok, recipes, these are generic as I change them a lot as I do all my recipes. You have the method, not be creative.

          For veggies, I usually just do olive oil, a little wine or broth and seasoning, to potatoes you can even add cheese too. Asparagus, sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, asparagus, corn on the cob, onions, mushrooms, you name it.
          If you want any specific recipes, just post back.

          Fish, salmon: salmon with butternut squash, brown sugar and bourbon glaze, sweet potato and spinach. All in one pouch. I thin slice a onion and put in the center of the foil pouch, top with salmon, s/p, then mix bourbon, brown sugar , a dash of red pepper for a little heat and a little butter and top the salmon, dice the sweet potato peeled and place around the salmon, add some scallions and top the sweet potatoes with a little frozen drained spinach. Drizzle a little veggie or chicken broth close up and cook approximately 15 minutes. It depends on the thickness of salmon weather it be steaks or filets and how thick.

          White fish, cod, halibut, flounder, grouper, tilapia. Many cooking times due to the thickness. But I like to top them with several different toppings .... so here goes. And remember ... just always add a little wine or broth to give the fish something to grill in.

          Mango, tomato, onion, some cinnimon, honey, cilantro, on top of fish.
          Greek, sundried tomatoes, olives, onions, mushrooms, pesto, fennel.
          Fresh, with thin sliced carrots, zuchinni, mushrooms, and fresh arugula
          Italian, fresh tomatoes, some dried oregano, onions, mushrooms

          Lemon slices are good on most fish, dill, white wine and a little cream is always simple and great on both salmon or any white fish

          Soy, ginger, green onions, shitaki mushrooms, or ...
          Citrus, orange slices, grapefruit slices, green onions, white wine, cilantro and a little spice is a great flavor as well.

          So please use your favorite seasonings as well. I don't recommend cheese, but a little cream with the wine will work ok as well. Think of your favorite fish dish and just make it in a pouch. There are NO set times as depending on the ingredients it will take different times, however I do go around 10-15 minutes and it is close.

          Another hint, always use a mix of butter and olive oil, liquid of some kind is a must, seasoning, and use your favorite veggies.

          Well that is my version. I'm having grouper in packets tomorrow as well, I plan to top mine with lemon, fresh asparagus, fennel, lemon slices, shallot and some thin sliced mushrooms, some white wine and just butter and a bit a cream. They will all cook together and be very very tender. This version is equally as good for salmon too.

          9 Replies
          1. re: kchurchill5

            Thank you so much for the instructions and sharing your recipes/mixes. They sound wonderful & I look forward to experimenting. One question, for the larger pieces of fish, like salmon/swordfish, I get a large piece & grill the whole you do a serving per packet for these types of fish?

            1. re: synergy

              Yes, I like to do no more than 2 pieces per package. Just easier to move around. Besides it is sort of fun to serve a nice package on each plate.

              All these as well I think I mentioned can be done in the oven in foil or even in parchment. I do put the parchment on a cookie sheet however when baking and bake at 425.

              Just remember have fun, fresh slices of citrus, oranges, limes, lemons are great. Any veggies, greek with feta, olives, tomatoes, fresh spinach or arugula. Even scallops or shrimp is great.

              I do one in the oven (I prefer the oven for this one) where I cook pasta, and put in a parchment pouch, add some wine and herbs, then I top with chunks of fish, shrimps, clams, scallops, white wine, butter, lemon, dill and some sliced shallots, I also add some thin sliced zuchinni, mushrooms and carrots . I cook at 425 for about 25 min. It is a greatminutes. Dinner in a pouch.

              Have fun with the fish.

              FYI, swordfish is great with fresh tomato, olives, spinach, onions and even artichokes. Just a little olive oil, lemon slices and white wine.

              Also, lemon slices, fresh herbs, parsley, thyme and artichoke hearts and scallions. Great over a olive a parmesan couscous.

              Best part. NO NO clean up and so easy. They are moist, flavorful and just fun to serve.

              1. re: kchurchill5

                Sounds yummy...will try it! thanks.

                1. re: synergy

                  Great, and u r welcome, just have fun, each fish is different, each pack is different, but have fun enjoying.

                  One I forgot to mention ... I had some leftover veggie fried rice. I don't get take out much but I had friends over so I had some left. I used that on the bottom, added some salmon which I marinated in soy and ginger and garlic for 30 min. Added some fresh scallions, some water chestnuts, a pre shredded cabbage, shitakis, and some broth. Put it all in a parchment pouch and cooked in the oven 25 minutes later, dinner. A nice Asian citrus salad and all done.

                  Enjoy having fun with trying new ideas and let me know how it goes.

            2. re: kchurchill5

              Hey kchurchill5 being from Florida you should have some good receipes :)

              1. re: kchurchill5

                Maybe you can solve my riddle. I have cooked fish in foil a few times, but the last time I did, something went horribly wrong. It ended up having an extremely bitter taster and I can't pinpoint the ingredient that may have been the culprit. I used orange roughy and threw in onion, arugula, garlic and laid it on top of lemon slices. (I baked mine in the oven) I have used similar ingredients in the past, but this was the first time I added dry white wine. Incidentally, the wine was perfectly fine for drinking.

                I thought maybe the wine reacted with the rinds of the lemon or the arugula, but there was a terrible, bitter taste and we had to toss the whole thing out. My other thought was that something reacted with the foil. I just don't know and have not made fish in foil again.

                Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


                1. re: Whoopingcrane

                  I've had lemon go really bitter on me before, whereas other times it's been fine. Not sure why. Also fish blood is really bitter, did you use whole fish, is it possible there was some left on the fish?

                  1. re: Whoopingcrane

                    No clues about the locus of the foul taste? Did anything burn onto the foil? Any chance the fish was not thoroughly cleaned? (Totally unlikely with roughy, but sometimes traces of intestine or spinal bits can ruin fish.)

                    1. re: BernalKC

                      Thanks for the replies. My first thought was the lemon (it almost seemed like it had the rind bitterness permeating the dish). But having never used wine before in foil packets I initially had a suspicion about that element. I don't think anything burned into the foil - I placed the packets in a glass baking dish in the oven. The roughy were fillets and came from a good fish monger her in NYC, but you never know - I hadn't purchased roughy from them before.

                      I also thought it might have been the arugula, but I had used that in packets before with no problem - I just had never used the exact combination of ingredients that ended up being off. Although I see them mentioned together in different recipes here.

                      I guess my best bet is too avoid that particular combination and stick with the fish I know and perhaps squeeze fresh lemon juice in my packets instead of whole slices.

                2. Thank you everyone. Great suggestions from all. As my thank you I'd like to share my go-to marinades, company worthy, that I use for salmon & swordfish (no packets, straight from marinade in baggie to grill).

                  Salmon Marinade: 3 Tablespoons of honey (or maple syrup), 3 Tablespoons of dijon mustard, 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar. I marinade it at least 2 hrs., usually more.

                  Swordfish Marinade: 1/2 C. rice wine vinegar; 1/2 C soy reduced soy sauce or teriyaki. a lot of tarragon (I don't measure, just put a lot in as I love the taste & you need enough for the flavor to transfer). This one is my favorite. EASY & delicious.

                  Keep the foil packet suggestions coming...I'll try them all summer...& winter...we pull the grill right up to the back door so we can grill all year round.

                  1. Everything looks good here!

                    WHere do you buy the fillets? Fresh from the food store's seafood counter? Frozen? Im a complete fish novice :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: carriesn

                      I prefer fresh and when entertaining always do when I can afford them. For me personally, I do get Salmon from my local albertsons, I also get some from my local Public or Sweetbay. I try to get fresh but they are usually open when I am close by so I have to get frozen or fresh frozen. I definitely can't afford whole foods and my local fish places closes well before I get home. Some frozen are not all that bad. My tilapia (not the best fish, but I will eat them now and then) frozen. Grouper I catch quite a bit so I freeze them myself or eat them fresh. Salmon usually Albertsons or Sams Club. Cod or Halibut, usually Sams or Albertsons as well. Just local grocers.

                      But catering or a dinner party, definitely fresh.

                      1. re: carriesn

                        We only buy our fish from our local fish store. They get fish in daily & it's freshness is worth the price to us.