Chef Eric Ripert Has A Special Technique For Grilled Fish

Of all the ways to cook fish, grilling is one of our favorites. From delicate filets to more robust whole fish and everything in between, this high-heat method of cooking can bring delicious smoky flavor and wonderfully crisp skin to salmon, swordfish, and plenty of other varieties of fish. Though fish-grilling methods vary, basic techniques include preheating a gas or charcoal grill, cleaning and oiling the grate, and cooking the fish at medium-high heat, for juicy fish that won't burn (via Cook's Illustrated).

But there's one star chef out there who has an unusual take on grilling fish, and his name should be familiar to anyone who enjoys seafood: Eric Ripert. Ripert is the chef and co-owner of New York City's Le Bernardin, a temple to fish that has been recognized as one of the best seafood restaurants in the world by the likes of the James Beard Foundation, Michelin, and The World's 50 Best Restaurants, to name a few. When Ripert shares a technique for cooking fish, we listen.

Eric Ripert grills his fish on a heated slate

You know those slate tiles you'd use to make a walkway in your garden (the ones that cost about $3 at Home Depot)? According to GQ, that's what chef extraordinaire Eric Ripert uses to grill his fish. Ripert oils the slate, places it on a cold grill, and heats the grill to medium high. Then, he places a marinated, seasoned, grill-friendly piece of fish such as mahi mahi, tuna, or swordfish onto the heated slate and cooks it for six to seven minutes per side, until medium rare.

So why slate? Ripert told GQ that slate — a fine-grained, sedimentary rock, according to Brittanica — lends fish "a certain minerality" and gets hot enough to "sear and cook the fish through, but not so hot that it will burn it."

Another benefit of cooking fish on slate is that the oils from the fish and marinade won't be able to drip onto the grill's coals or heating elements, which usually causes flare ups of flames that can burn or singe, creating off flavors in delicate fish. "You prevent that burnt bitterness," Ripert told the outlet. So the next time you're browsing the aisles of your favorite home improvement store, you might want to grab a piece of slate for the grill.