Tyler Florence Shares His Go-to 'Shareable Party Dish' (Fish Tacos!) — Plus Tips for Mastering the Grill

"It has a little bit of everything: flaky fish with just enough char, chile mayo for richness and a little heat," says the chef and author of 'American Grill'

<p>C2 Photography / FOOD & WINE</p> Tyler Florence shares his grilling tips

C2 Photography / FOOD & WINE

Tyler Florence shares his grilling tips

Food Network's Tyler Florence wants people to think outside the box when it comes to grilling.

"I always say that your grill is an oven — if you use the right cookware and close the lid, you’re creating a situation where cakes can rise, dishes can steam and popcorn can pop," the restaurateur tells PEOPLE.

Florence's upcoming cookbook American Grill (out May 28) guides readers on the basics of barbecuing (like chicken breast: "If you know how to do it right, it couldn’t be more foolproof!") and the surprising dishes that benefit from being cooked on a grill.

"When I fire up the grill for dinner, I’m cooking at that perfect peak heat. But as the coals start to go down, it creates a temperature that’s right in the sweet spot for baking desserts," says the host of The Great Food Truck Race.

His Grilled Ricotta and Honey Cheesecake recipe from American Grill is just one favorite example. "I love utilizing the residual heat to experiment with fun baked dishes," he says.

Related: This Crunchy Peanut, Cashew and Lime Slaw Is Just What Your Memorial Day Cookout Needs

When it comes to grill tools, Florence says a vegetable grill basket and Lodge cast iron cookware should be part of every cook's arsenal. But, most importantly, everyone needs a meat thermometer.

"If you have nothing else, this one is essential," says Florence. "A digital thermometer takes the guesswork out of grilling — it will tell you exactly when to pull your food off the grates, ensuring that nothing gets overcooked or dried out."

To warm up your skills at the start of the summer, Florence's Grilled Fish Tacos with Chipotle Mayo (below) is an easy first recipe.

Related: Sat Bains' Barbecue Potato Salad Gets a Creamy Texture from Goat Cheese

"This is the epitome of a good, shareable party dish. I like to serve it family-style so people can assemble their own tacos, which means lots of different combinations," says the chef, who uses halibut but says "any firm white fish would be great."

"It has a little bit of everything: flaky fish with just enough char, chile mayo for richness and a little heat, bright pico de gallo, punchy herbs and fresh squeezed lime juice," he adds. "You get an all-in-one bite, and the colors and textures are incredible."

<p>Jen Causey</p> Tyler Florence's Grilled Fish Tacos

Jen Causey

Tyler Florence's Grilled Fish Tacos

Tyler Florence’s Grilled Fish Tacos with Chile Mayo

½ cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. sriracha chile sauce

½ tsp. ground cumin

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 (8-oz.) skin-on halibut fillets, patted dry

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. black pepper

8 (6-in.) corn tortillas

1 cup refrigerated pico de gallo (from 1 [16-oz.] container)

Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped scallions and lime wedges, for serving

1. Whisk together mayonnaise, sriracha and cumin in a small bowl. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Preheat grill to medium high (400° to 450°). Place a large cast-iron flat-top griddle or skillet on grill; brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

3. Rub halibut fillets with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place fillets, skin-side down, on griddle; cook, uncovered and undisturbed, until skin is crispy and browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle flesh side of fillets with salt and pepper. Flip fillets, flesh-side down, on griddle; cook, uncovered and undisturbed, until opaque throughout and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate; tent with aluminum foil until ready to serve.

4. Place tortillas directly on grill grates, and grill until lightly charred in spots, 20 to 30 seconds. Wrap tortillas in a large sheet of aluminum foil, and keep warm.

5. Using a fork, flake halibut into large pieces, and discard skin. Spread about 2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixture over each tortilla; top with halibut and 2 tablespoons pico de gallo. Sprinkle with cilantro and scallions; serve with lime wedges.

Serves: 4
Active time:
 20 minutes
Total time:
 40 minutes

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