Dude Food: Dad’s Fish-Friendly Grill

For a fish-friendly Father’s Day Meal, check out this Formal Pescatarian Dinner!

In preparation for Father’s Day last year, I had my dad teach me how to make his favorite morning oatmeal. In addition to announcing that my dad is an oatmeal man, I also revealed that he is not a grill guy. A year later, this has changed.

Last summer, my dad went on a grill kick, learning how to fire up his chimney, manipulate a flame, and create a perfect crosshatch on beautiful pieces of seafood. So this year, I can proudly say that my dad is an oatmeal man and a grill man. But a meat man, he still is not.

I was hard=pressed to find a grilling cookbook for him that featured seafood and vegetables in equally weighted sections as meat (if anyone has any recommendations, let me know in the comments section!!). But he managed to do just fine on his own. His best creation was a lemon and rosemary halibut grilled to perfection. The recipe was courtesy of Alex Witchel, and a perfect match for a fledgling cook like my dad.

All last summer, my mom and I would clear out a of corner of the kitchen and let my dad ream lemons, de-leaf fresh rosemary from the garden, and press garlic through a press. By the end of the summer, his web printouts were covered in lemon juice splatter marks, and oily thumb prints. And all of us were convinced of his grill masterdom.

After minimal googling, I was unable to happen upon the recipe that inspired his successful conquering of the grill. I’ve reinvented it below using the basic combination of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and herbs. It’s pretty versatile in terms of the fish you use, but if you can afford to do so—and Father’s Day in particular, is the right time to splurge—I would recommend using halibut. Its flesh is firm enough to withstand the grill’s grates (and a spatula-happy hand that insists on frequent flipping), but, unlike other firm-fleshed varieties like swordfish, the result is so light, fluffy, and moist you’ll never believe the fish was subjected to such a harsh cooking method as an open flame.

If your dad happens to be a grill guy but not a meat dude, skip the un-fish friendly cookbooks, and give him the gift of this recipe for Father’s Day. It will keep him busy, happy, and well-fed all summer long. Better yet, you’ll get to benefit from the fruits of his labor, as my mother and I did.

From my kitchen, kicking off summer with my father’s fish-friendly grill, to yours,



Grilled Halibut with Fennel & Green Olive Tapenade
Makes 2 servings

You can use any sturdy white fish for this recipe that takes well to the grill–talk to your fishmonger, as many thin white fish will crumble completely on the grill. If you can’t find lemon thyme, you can use regular, but you might want to reduce the amount, as regular thyme tends to be stronger.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
zest of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, minced or pushed through a press
2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme leaves (you can use regular)
1 pound halibut, cut into two filets
1/2 cup olive tapenade (recipe follows)

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and thyme in a Ziplock bag. Place the fish filets in the bag and swish around until covered in the marinade. Seal the bag and place in the fridge for 1 hour. (Do not marinate any longer or the fish will begin to cook in the lemon juice and become a ceviche.)

Preheat the grill (indoor or outdoor) and brush it with olive oil. Remove the fish from the marinade and season with salt and pepper on both sides. When the grill is hot, place the fish flesh-side down. Cook until the fish is opaque halfway up the side, about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filet. Carefully flip the fish and cook skin-side down until cooked through, about 4 more minutes.

Remove the fish and top with the fennel and green olive tapenade. Serve immediately alongside grilled veggies or Mediterranean Hash.

Fennel & Green Olive Tapenade
Makes 1 cup

If you don’t have a food processor, simply finely chop the veggies by hand. If you can’t find lemon thyme, you can use regular, but you might want to reduce the amount. Regular thyme tends to be stronger.

1 small fennel bulb, tough outer layer removed, roughly chopped
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme (regular thyme works too, see note)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup green olives (kalamata or picholine)
1/2 lime, juiced

In a small food processor, pulse the fennel and shallot until finely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a small non-stick skillet and place it over medium heat. Saute the shallot and fennel until tender but not mushy, about 5-8 minutes. Add the lemon thyme, red pepper flakes and salt, and saute for another minute, until fragrant. Meanwhile, pulse the olives until finely chopped. Add to the olives to the pan along with the additional olive oil and lime juice. Stir until incorporated, then remove from the heat. The tapenade can keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. Serve it on top of grilled fish, or as a spread for crackers or baguette.

  • Levan78

    I’ve had this book for many years http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Grill-Elegant-Delectable-Recipes/dp/0809250330/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1307649658&sr=1-1

    There appears to be an updated one on amazon as well with 90 recipes

  • Frankie

    Love the use of fennel and shallots in the olive tapenade, and it marries perfectly with the lemon/rosemary marinade, giving off the full Mediterranean bouquet. Almost as genius as Dad. Happy Father’s Day!

  • silversmith

    Years ago when traveling from Homer, with a borrowed camper, we bought a whole halibut. I did not have my usual herbs and spices with me but we did have the makings of martinis so we happened upon this fun dish. In a fry pan, sear the halibut with olive oil, then poach it in dry vermouth with slices of green olives. Very tasty.

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Sounds wonderful!

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