How to Grill Seafood for the Very Best Results
It's not just shrimp on the barbie, mate. Most types of seafood benefit from the quick cooking and smoky flavor of grilling. Plus, cleanup is easy, and since you're cooking outside, there's no fishy smell to linger in the house.
Some Fish for the Grill
Here are just some of the firm-flesh fish that take well to the grill. Pictured here are red snapper, swordfish, halibut fillet and halibut steak, cod fish, sea bass, tilapia, catfish, and salmon fillet and salmon steak.
How To Choose the Best Fish for Grilling
The best fish fillets or steaks for grilling are at least 1-inch thick. The fish should appear unblemished, the flesh firm, and the smell fresh and briny like the sea. If you can, grill fish the same day you buy it. And always keep fish cold and in the fridge before grilling. For more, check out How to Pick Out Fresh Fish at the Market.
Quick Tips for Grilling Fish
When fish cooks on a grill, it loses moisture fast -- faster than most meats. And over an open grill, the juice drips straight onto sizzling coals. To preserve moisture, coat the fish with oil, which will seal some of the moisture inside. And follow these steps:
- Designate a cool area on the grill. Pile hot coals on just one side of the grill.
- Start with clean grill grates.
- Use tongs to rub the grate with a cloth or paper towel coated with vegetable oil.
- For firm fleshed fish like salmon, halibut, and tuna steaks: brush the fish with vegetable oil and season with salt.
- Most fish can grill directly on the grate, at high heat.
- Flip as soon as the fish is cooked at least ½ way through.
- For every 1-inch of thickness, expect about 10 minutes of cooking time (over medium-hot coals).
- Wrap thin fillets or delicate fish in cornhusks, banana leaves, grape leaves, or aluminum foil -- or place the fish on top of the foil. Place parchment paper between fish and foil to help prevent sticking.
VIDEO: How to Grill Fish
Cook salmon skin-side down, without disturbing it for 3 to 5 minutes. Then gently turn it over with a wide metal spatula. It's done when it easily flakes apart with a fork.
To grill fish, Chef John recommends high-heat cooking on thick, wide cast-iron grates -- the fish won't stick as much and comes away with beautiful grill marks.
This grilled salmon recipe features a warm bacon and fresh corn relish. Watch the video for smart tips on grilling salmon and determining doneness.
Tuna is a great choice for quick, high-heat grilling. For rare or medium-rare tuna, sear it quickly over high heat for a couple minutes on each side, then move the fish to a cooler part of the grill until it's done to your liking.
Herbs and marinades add a nice burst of flavor to wild or farm-raised trout. Do any flavor-infusing in the fridge.
This fast grilled sea bass features an explosively flavorful Asian chili and lime sauce. Simply brush the fish fillets with a little oil and season with salt and give them a few minutes on the hot grill. Watch Chef John in action:
Shrimp, Prawns, and Shellfish
Prawns, shrimp, scallops, and small pieces of fish work nicely on kabobs, which can be marinated -- or not -- and cooked directly on the grill. Keep a close eye on the cooking process -- seafood finishes in a hurry.
Bivalves on the Barbeque
Oysters and scallops are easy to prepare on the grill -- no shucking required!
See our complete collection of Grilled Seafood Recipes.