FALLBROOK – Cooking on a grill is not just conducive to making steaks or burgers. Seafood is something that also cooks easily and tastefully over an open fire.
Grill masters too often shy away from cooking seafood on the grill. They may feel it’s too complicated. Although cooking fish on the barbecue requires a little know-how, it tends to be just as easy as cooking traditional barbecue fare once you get the hang of it.
Filleted fish tends to break apart quite easily once it is cooked. If you have reservations about cooking fish on a grill, you may want to start with a thicker cut of fish, or the entire fish itself. Fish steaks are thicker cuts and, though they take longer to cook on the grill, they’ll also hold together better than thin, filet slices. Many different types of fish can be cut into steaks, including halibut, salmon, shark, tuna, and more.
Even if the fish you are cooking is thick, there is still a chance of making a mess of it while grilling unless you follow two important rules:
1. Cook on a well-oiled grill.
2. Don’t touch the fish too much during cooking.
A well-oiled surface is essential to keeping the steak or filet from sticking to the rungs of the grill. Many people like to flip grilled foods several times to check for doneness, but doing so with fish can cause it to flake apart. Instead, leave the fish alone until the edges have become opaque and are just starting to flake apart before you turn it. Then do not handle the fish again until you are ready to take it off the grill.
Cooking directly over the flame is fast, but you also can use non-stick foil and steam the fish within a foil packet. With this method of cooking you can better seal in juices and even top the fish with lemon slices or vegetables so the items cook together.
Using a foil packet also helps keep the fish from breaking apart on the grill, and can be a safe method to try if this is your first foray into grilling fish.
Finned fish are not the only types of sea-dwelling creatures that can be cooked on the barbecue. Everything from clams to shrimp can be tossed on the barbecue.
Oysters and clams can be cleaned and placed directly on a well-oiled grill. Simply cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the shells of the oysters and clams open up widely.
Shrimp can be grilled using a seafood basket that keeps the food contained for easy flipping en masse. Otherwise, slide shrimp on kabob skewers or bamboo sticks (soak wood sticks in water before putting on the grill) to cook easily. Shrimp cooks quickly. Check for a pink color after a few minutes so the shrimp don’t overcook and become rubbery.
You can also cook lobster or crayfish on the grill. Parboil the lobster inside the house for a few minutes. Then take the lobster out of the pot and dunk into ice water to stop the boiling process. Halve the lobster and brush each side with melted butter. Then place the lobster, meat-side-down, onto the grill. Cook for an additional 5 minutes per side, or until the meat looks opaque in color.
Grilling seafood is nothing to fear. Once you master some of the techniques for success, delicious meals will follow.