Grilled seafood can be a delightful culinary experience if done right. Many people shy away from seafood because they donâ€™t know what to do with it. Seafood makes a tasty, healthy meal on the grill. Did you know most fish has less than half the fat of beef? I would rather put a nice salmon fillet on the grill any day. Grilling great seafood does takes a little practice. Iâ€™ve put together 10 tips to help you get started.
1. Always start with fresh fish if possible. You will have a better grilling experience. Previously frozen fish will also work; its just harder to work with. Plan on 6-8 ounces per person for fillets and 8-12 ounces per person when buying whole fish.
2. When grilling directly on the grill it is best to use a firm fleshed fish like grouper, marlin, salmon or tuna. A special fish and vegetable grid will make grilling easier. The finer mesh will help keep your food from falling through. You may even want to use a wire grill basket, especially for those more delicate fillets. This way you can turn your fish over without worrying about it breaking apart. You can even stick lemon slices between the fish and basket, if you wish.
3. Always make sure your grill is clean and well-lubricated with oil to prevent your fish from sticking. Fish breaks apart easily. If it sticks to your grill, you will have nothing but little pieces to serve. I like to saturate a paper towel with cooking oil and wipe down my grill before putting my food on. I havenâ€™t tried it yet, but PAM also has a cooking spray made just for grilling.
4. If your fish came with the skin on, leave it on. Always place your fish fillet flesh side down first. This will sear the flesh, locking in the flavor and moisture. Turn over one-third to halfway through the grilling.
5. Always grill your fish over a hot to medium-hot fire. To test this, hold your hand about 5 inches above your heat source. Your fire is hot if you can only hold it there for about 2 seconds. 3-4 seconds would indicate a medium-hot fire. When cooking whole fish instead of fillets, you will want a slightly lower temperature as the cooking time will be longer.
6. So how long do I leave my fish on the grill? A good rule of thumb is about 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but your recipe should note this if that is the case. Fish is done when its color turns opaque and just begins to flake with a fork. A little underdone is better than overdone as your fish will continue to cook after taken off the grill.
7. Marinades are great to add additional flavor to fish. Marinade your fish for only 30-60 minutes before grilling. Because of their lack of connective tissue, fish absorbs marinades easily. Do not over marinade or the flavors may overpower the flavor of your fish.
8. Do I need to baste my fish? When grilling, baste lean fish periodically with your favorite basting liquid or olive oil. This will help keep the fish from drying out. Basting is not really necessary with fattier fish but you may wish to do so for more flavor.
9. I love to grill with skewers. Lightly marinated shrimp are great! Use fairly large shrimp for this. Chunks of fish also work well as long as they are firm fleshed. Alternate with chunks of your favorite vegetables for great kebobs. If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. This will keep them from burning up on your grill.
10. One last tip. Tired of your hands smelling like a tacklebox long after youâ€™ve washed your hands? Try rubbing some lemon juice on your hands. Then wash with soap and water. This will also help get rid of onion or garlic odors.
Grilling seafood isnâ€™t really very hard if you follow these tips. With a little practice you will be grilling perfect seafood in no time. Your stomach will thank you for it, as well as all your friends and family. So slap a nice fillet of salmon on the grill today.
This article was written by Shane Bryan, aka Chef Shane. Chef Shane has his own cooking site at http://chefshane.com
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