Why It Works
- A two-zone indirect fire offers a higher heat zone for searing and a lower heat zone to finish cooking the fish without risk of burning.
- Simple fixings on the sandwich keep the fish the star ingredient.
Grilled blackened fish sandwiches are a Florida classic, and they couldn't be easier to make. Fillets of grouper, mahimahi, or another white-fleshed fish are coated in a paprika-based spice rub, then grilled until dark and juicy. The sandwiches themselves are the definition of simple perfection, featuring soft and tender bread, lettuce, tomato, and classic condiments like mayo, tartar sauce, or remoulade. A couple slices of crisped bacon, if desired, wouldn't hurt.
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Large pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 (6-ounce; 170g) grouper, mahimahi, or other white fish fillets
- Kosher salt
- 4 tender sandwich buns
- Romaine or iceberg lettuce, for topping
- Thinly sliced tomato, for topping
- Mayonnaise, tartar sauce, or remoulade, for serving
- 8 crisply cooked bacon slices (optional)
Light 1 chimney full of charcoal (see note). When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of the charcoal grate to create a two-zone indirect fire. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together paprika, oregano, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne. Season fish fillets all over with salt, then rub each all over with spice rub.
Cook fish on hot side of grill until undersides of fillets are darkened and a thin slotted fish spatula can be slid under with little resistance, about 4 minutes. Flip fish and repeat on other side. Transfer to cooler side of grill and continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 140°F (60°C), or until a cake tester can be inserted through center with no resistance. (The last trace of translucence in the center should just be disappearing when the fish is done.) Transfer fish to a platter to rest.
Toast buns on hot side of grill, then build sandwiches. Spread mayo (or tartar sauce or remoulade) on bottom and top buns; set fish fillets on bottom buns; top with lettuce and tomato (and bacon, if using); and close sandwiches. Serve right away.
Grill, slotted fish spatula, instant-read thermometer or cake tester
If you don't have a grill, or don't want to fire one up, you can make this sandwich just as easily by broiling the fish, or searing it in a cast iron skillet.