With summer in full swing, backyard grills are seeing plenty of action. And while most people tend to stick to the basics such as burgers, bratwursts, or chicken, there are plenty of seafood options that are just as easy to prepare and grill as the classic barbeque staples and are just as tasty too. Here are a few simple tips and tricks for cooking fish and other seafood right on your grill for those warm summer nights that are just too beautiful for indoor meals!
One of the easiest methods for grilling fish is to use a firmer fish such as tuna or salmon which can be cooked directly on the grill. Start by cleaning the grill surface well with a wire brush. Then saturate a paper towel with cooking oil such as olive or vegetable oil and lightly coat the cool grill rack before heating to medium-high to hot. To check if the grill is heated to the proper temperature, hold your hand about 5” above the grill surface and when you can only keep it there for 2-4 seconds you’ll know it has been preheated enough.
Grill the fish 10 minutes per 1” of thickness approximately (5 minutes per side) and make sure to only flip the fish once as turning it too many times can cause to break up and fall through the grates. Fish should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 145° F and is done when it just begins to flake and turn opaque.
A hinged wire basket works great for whole fish such as snapper, trout or salmon or for fillets of more delicate fish like perch, snapper, catfish or flounder. Shrimp or scallops can be grilled this way as well or can be cooked on metal or bamboo skewers. If using bamboo skewers make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning during grilling.
If you don’t have a wire basket, fish fillets and other seafood can easily be cooked in aluminum foil packets. Place the fish fillets, shrimp or scallops on two squares of heavy-duty foil, top with a mix of seasonings such as lemon juice, salt & pepper, fresh herbs, onions, garlic or spices. Add a small drizzle of olive oil or a pat of butter and then seal the packet by tenting the foil (bring in all the corners and crimp together). Grill fillets for 10-15 minutes, shrimp and scallops for 8-10 minutes.
Fish is also delicious when cooked on wooden planks which come in large variety including cedar, alder, mesquite, cherry and hickory. Before grilling soak the planks in water according to the package, generally 1-2 hours for softer woods like cedar, longer for hardwoods. Set up your grill for indirect heat cooking– for gas grills use one area with low flames or without any at all and for charcoal grills move coals to one side and use the plank on the other area.
Next take your presoaked plank and place it food side down on the hot side of the grill until it begins to smolder, about 15 minutes. Once that’s done, turn the plank over, brush with olive oil to prevent sticking and add the fish. Close the lid of the grill and cook for 10-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet and the heat of the grill. Again, make sure to cook to an internal temperature of 145°. Be prepared for flare ups and keep a spray bottle filled with water handy to combat any flames.
Shellfish such as clams, oysters and mussels cook super easy to prepare on the grill – just toss them right onto the rack of a hot grill and they will open when they’re done (discard any that haven’t opened after about 5 minutes).
By using these simple tips and techniques you’ll be able to easily prepare a beautiful, elegant meal any night of the week!