~ Caprese Grilled Fish is a super-simple yet incredibly delicious meal that’s perfect with summer’s best tomatoes and basil! Just the kind of fresh fish recipe you’ll find on the menu at Poseidon restaurant in Hilton Head, South Carolina – or the type of recipe to make when you’re dreaming of a sunny, beachy vacation! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less •
Even though we’re lifelong Ohioans (well, at least for now … ), returning to the Carolina coast feels a little bit like coming home.
This year, as we pulled onto the lane leading to the condos we always stay in, I heard myself happily murmur, “We’re home …”
One of the very best things about returning to a place you love is that you know what to expect … and what to look forward to. In these years when each spring is filled to overflowing with ever-changing, unpredictable kids’ schedules, it’s so refreshing to get away to somewhere that’s at least a tiny bit predictable … not in a boring way, but in a welcoming, you’re-right-where-you-belong way.
For us, that spring break happy place is Hilton Head.
All those favorite must-do, checklist activities I told you about yesterday? Yep – they were all there, waiting for us!
But here’s the thing. As much as we desperately need a little sanity each spring, a little predictability, we’re always scouting for new adventures, too. Luckily, Hilton Head has both … and each year our must-do list seems to grow longer and longer!
One of our favorite adventures is simply biking around the island. Hilton Head has miles and miles of fabulous, paved bike trails and lots of hard-pack sand that’s terrific for beach biking. We’re always discovering new parts of the island while getting great exercise, too!
My advice? If you’re planning a trip to HHI, you can certainly tote along your own bikes – that’s what we did the first year. But it’s so much easier just to rent beach-ready bikes with big, knobby tires when you get there – plus you don’t have to worry about the salt spray corroding your own bikes. Just my two cents.
Another thing we love about the beach is the simple joy of seeing dolphins. Never seems to get old. A couple of years ago, we rented a little speed boat and spent a blissful, surf-sprayed afternoon finding more dolphins than we’d ever imagined, placidly swimming in the saltwater inlets that surround HHI. We were charmed and delighted.
This year, we decided to forgo the pricier speedboat and rent kayaks instead. Another great way to see wildlife up close. We played hide-and-seek with a lone dolphin that Amy named Heidi (you know … Heidi … hide-and-seek … 😀 ). At times, she (ok … we’re guessing … Heidi might actually have been a Harold … but go with me here …) she was so close we probably could have touched her with our paddles. We were thrilled as she’d surface and stare closely at us with her big, sweet eye … only to dive down again and swim off in a totally different direction, sending us giggling and paddling furiously to catch up again.
And while I’m spouting advice and recommending adventures to you, I’ll just throw out Savannah as a great little day trip option. It’s less than an hour’s easy drive from Hilton Head and has a historic river walk and all those famed, picturesque squares – each filled with ancient, drooping trees and quaint paths.
Savannah has a storied, vibrant past (think burly pirates and Civil War heroes). It’s also the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. Any good Scout will want at least a quick peek at one (or both) of her homes … gotta say you’ve been there, right?!?
We’d done a quick trolley tour of the city on an earlier visit, just ducking by Savannah as we headed for home, but this year we decided to make a whole day of it. The kids even talked us into staying late into the evening for a ghost tour – their first ever, and they seriously loved it!
So many new adventures! But as an avid foodie, many of my very most favorite adventures involve food. (You’re totally not surprised by this, I know!) An awesome new find this year? Hilton Head’s Poseidon restaurant, which just opened in 2015.
It’s chic and upscale, yet relaxing and beachy, too. Poseidon sits along the banks of Broad Creek, in the Shelter Cove Towne Center, with a gorgeous waterfront view across a landscaped park. Looking for spectacular sunsets along with ocean-fresh seafood? Game on! Especially with Poseidon’s in-house Sunset Celebration countdown!
Scott and I really and truly meant to have a date night at The Rooftop – we truly did. But in the end, we realized we just wanted to hang out with the kids a little more. They’re off to college in four short years … that time’s just ticking away. But next time? Next time … look out, Rooftop … I’m comin’ for ya!
And until then, I can keep that beachy-fun vibe going back home with this fantastic Caprese Grilled Fish recipe, which Chef Brad Blake happily shared with us … to share with you! (An interesting sidenote – it turned out that Poseidon is a sister restaurant to our long-time favorite, Skull Creek Boathouse, so Chef Blake offered us today’s recipe, as well as the recipe for Skull Creek’s amazing Sea Island Seafood Stew, which we shared in yesterday’s post.)
Although the Caprese Grilled Fish isn’t a regular menu item at Poseidon, it perfectly showcases Poseidon’s focus on fresh seafood, and is exactly the type of recipe they might feature as a daily special.
And just as this recipe is a quintessential expression of Poseidon’s food philosophy, it’s also spot-on for THK – easy, healthy, and fabulously delicious!
Mild white fish is quickly grilled, then topped with a just-minutes-to-prepare caprese topping. It’s the perfect summer dinner, bursting with the flavors of juicy tomatoes and fresh basil.
To make it even easier, we’ve got a few tips:
Selecting Your Fish – Chef Blake suggests using sustainably caught fish, and of course Poseidon prefers to source locally whenever they can (which, sadly, isn’t always so easy for those of us in Ohio). Ideally, for this fish recipe, you want to select a meaty fish such as cobia or grouper. Here in Ohio, though, those can be tough to find and pretty expensive. So, in addition to testing this recipe for you with grouper, we also tried easily obtainable, less expensive tilapia. Both worked beautifully and were absolutely delicious. Talk to your fishmonger for a recommendation on the day you’re shopping, and let pricing specials and whatever’s freshest and sustainably sourced be your guide in choosing. To learn more about sustainability, we suggest checking out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.
Use the Best Ingredients Possible – Because this recipe is so very simple, choosing the best and most flavorful summer tomatoes, and a good quality balsamic (as well as lovely fish) will elevate this dish to something truly wonderful.
Grilling Tips – We tested grilling the fish in a couple of different ways – both in one large piece, which we then cut into smaller portions for serving (as shown in our photos) – and also in four pre-portioned pieces. Both options worked great. Pre-portioned pieces may be a bit easier for you to position and flip during grilling. But, if you really want to earn some ooooooohs and aaaaaaahs at a cookout, one larger piece makes a gorgeous display, brought to the table on a serving platter.
Also, we grilled our fish directly on our grill’s grates for nice grill marks. However, an even easier option might be to use one of those nonstick grill toppers specifically designed for veggies, shrimp and fish. You won’t get those perfect sear lines, but you also won’t have to worry about any beautiful pieces of fish falling sadly through the grill grates into the flames below.
Make It Your Own – The caprese topping is easily adjustable to fit your tastes and the exact flavors of the produce you’re using (for instance, are your tomatoes more sweet or acidic?). Feel free to add more garlic, or amp up the basil, or dial back the balsamic – whatever you’d prefer. Give the caprese topping a quick taste after you’ve mixed it all together and play with the flavors so they’re spot-on perfect for you! Also, although this recipe should make a nice amount for four people, it’s a total snap to scale it up for a summer party or down for a romantic dinner for two!
Make It a Meal – We loved Chef Blake’s suggested serving ideas for this grilled fish. It’s terrific nestled alongside some pasta (we’re hoping you pick whole grain, of course!), and some fresh or wilted spinach. A perfect summer meal … as easy-breezy-awesome as a day at the beach!
So, definitely, if you’re heading to Hilton Head anytime soon, make sure Poseidon’s on your to-do list … along with all that biking and beaching! And do me a favor: be sure to hit The Rooftop, and drop me a note to taunt me (kindly 🙂 ) with stories of all the fun we missed there!
In the meantime … you can whip up this easy Caprese Grilled Fish, and we can enjoy a beachy daydream together!
More Daydream-Worthy, Easy Fish Recipes …
- Easy Honey-Glazed Salmon
- Asian Salmon Burgers with Avocado and Hoisin Sauce
- Super-Fast Asian Salmon Pasta with Easy Peanut Sauce
- 25 Salmon Recipes … Easy, Super Nutritious and Incredibly Delicious!
- 33 Easy Fish Recipes to Love All Year Long
For the Caprese Topping
- 1 1/2 cups seeded, diced tomatoes (about 2-3 medium tomatoes)
- 2 ounces (about a heaping 1/3 cup) cubed fresh mozzarella
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
For the Grilled Fish
- 1 1/4 pounds firm white fish (tilapia, grouper or cobia; see note)
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
For the Caprese Topping:
- In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper. Let rest for 10-15 minutes while you prepare fish.
For the Grilled Fish:
- Prepare and preheat grill.
- Brush fish thoroughly on both sides with 1 teaspoon olive oil, and then sprinkle ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper evenly over both sides. You can choose to cut the fish into individual portions before grilling, or wait until afterwards.
- Grill fish over medium heat. Allow the first side to sear for about 3-4 minutes, until lightly golden brown grill marks form. Then rotate the fish about 90 degrees (still grilling on the first side), to create cross-hatched grill marks, grilling for about another 3-4 minutes.
- Flip fish to second side and continue grilling until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily when tested with a fork, about another 4-8 minutes, depending on thickness.
- Spoon caprese topping over fish.
Fish: Chef Blake suggests using locally caught, sustainable fish, and looking for a meaty fish such as cobia or grouper. We've tested this recipe with both grouper, and with tilapia (which is much less expensive and easier to find here in Ohio). To learn more about sustainability, we suggest checking out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch at www.seafoodwatch.org.